'I am a normal person who plays cricket'

A selection of Tendulkar's interviews down the years
November 9, 2013

Easily the most-sought after cricketer © Getty Images
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Few cricketers in the modern era have been as sought after by the media as Sachin Tendulkar. Even before his international debut, reporters and TV crews were hunting him down for sound bytes.

Tendulkar's first major interview was as early as 1986, when he spoke to a journalist from Mid-Day at an Irani restaurant near Shivaji Park.

His television interview was as a 15-year-old, when he spoke to Tom Alter at Hindu Gymkhana - an interview that took place after Tendulkar had waited nearly two hours, sipping on cups of tea, as Dilip Vengsarkar was being interviewed.

In early 1995, Tendulkar and Brian Lara - then two of the most exciting batsmen in world cricket - spoke to India Today's Rohit Brijnath.

Q. Do you have a private life? Does anyone respect your privacy? How tough is it being a star?
Sachin: It's very tough, it's very irritating because you get no privacy. Like when I got engaged, I didn't want my photo to appear in the papers. It was a personal thing and my fiancee and I refused. I requested the press not to make it a big issue. Yet after that, for 10-15 days, the photographers were following my fiancee. They think it's a very common thing that because you're public property, everybody should know. But everybody should know about my cricket and nothing else.

Lara: Yes, it's tough. Your private life, I think, should be yours. You play cricket on the field, you perform on the field, and regarding the private aspect of your life, you should at least be given the liberty to live your own life and do the things you want to do outside of cricket.

In August 1999, Tendulkar was interviewed by BBC's Karan Thapar.

I always somehow liked fast bowling. I like watching fast bowlers. And wanting to become a fast bowler I had gone to Chennai for the selections where Dennis Lillee was going to conduct the MRF pace bowling Foundation Camp. And nobody knows this but I was also carrying my pads and bat. So I ended up batting in the nets and on the last day I was batting in the nets and instead of becoming a fast bowler I batted there. They said he's too small to become a fast bowler and all those kinds of things. So I batted there, enjoyed and came back.

India traveled to England in 2002 - Tendulkar's third tour to that country - and he spoke to the Observer's Tim Adams at the start of that tour.

Matthew Hayden, the dogged Australian batsman, and not a man, you imagine, especially given to philosophical hyperbole, once described the experience of watching Tendulkar strolling quietly out to the middle in Bombay: 'His life,' Hayden suggested, 'seems to be a stillness in a frantic world... [When he goes out to bat], it is beyond chaos - it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man. The people see him as a god...'

Not surprisingly, when this quote was repeated to him, Tendulkar sought to defuse its implications: 'I am a normal person who plays cricket,' he suggested. 'I am nothing more than that.' The journalists on the Indian sports pages and the boys and men who play makeshift, full pelt broom handle cricket on every patch of spare ground in Bombay, would beg to differ. As indeed, would several of his teammates: Ravi Shastri, who himself grew up to the reverential clamour of Bombay, is happy to concede that 'he is someone sent from up there to play cricket and go back'.

In 2008, Tendulkar was interviewed by Channel Nine as part of a two-part documentary on the batsman.

I was very confident because I always rubbed shoulders with the senior guys, occasionally guys who were twice my age and that helped… I believed in my ability. I remember the first Test match I played in my life, it was a difficult one, it was in Pakistan, and after that I thought I will never play for India because I was totally out of place. But I was fortunately given another go, and in the second Test I scored 59 runs and that's when I believed, yes I belong here.

Four years later Tendulkar spoke to the Hindustan Times' Pradeep Magazine in a wide-ranging interview, large parts of which covered the art of batting.

At the start of my career, I would look to punch off the back foot anything short of length outside the off-stump. But I realised you can't keep doing that every ball. There are certain deliveries you need to let go. They may not be the best of deliveries but you need to leave them alone sometimes. And when you are set, it is all about knowing when you can attack and when you can let it go. I thought that came to me with experience. I felt in Australia, where I went in 1992, which was a big tour for me, and before that in England, scoring my first Test hundred in the second match was a big boost. I realised I was good enough to score big runs at this level. That hundred I scored kept the series alive, as we had lost the first Test and were about to lose the second as well. That confidence, having scored big and kept the series alive, was a perfect dose for my confidence.

In Outlook magazine, Clayton Murzello picked some Tendulkar nuggets over the course of his career.

In November 1997, Tendulkar was leading Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy against Gujarat at Valsad. On the eve of an important bcci meeting, I decided to ask the India captain what cricketing decisions he expected from his bosses. Again, I expected him to toe a diplomatic, if not a 'no comments' line. But he said he wanted the board to appoint a foreigner as consultant and that did not mean sacking then coach, Madan Lal. He must be retained, Sachin said, for he has done a good job. Madan Lal didn't keep his job, although the board later appointed Australian Bob Simpson as consultant.

Features

The man whom cricket loved back

Sambit Bal: Tendulkar was the biggest worshipper the game could ever find, and in that lay the foundation of his greatness

Tendulkar's perfect balance

Sharda Ugra: While the team, the country and the sport changed around him, Tendulkar remained constant

Why do we insist on seeing the 'real' Sachin?

Rahul Bose: You can ask as much as you want for a more "human", more "feelable, touchable" Sachin, but he'll probably not change - and that's a good thing

Zaltz Stats

550,000,000
The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet