New Delhi, November 13, 2009
Just a couple of days away from completing 20 years in international cricket, Sachin Tendulkar on Friday said his first India cap in a Test series against Pakistan in 1989 was the most cherished moment in his illustrious career.
"Twenty years is a long time and I have many special moments and it would be difficult to count them. But the first one (Test), the first day walking out in the playing XI in Pakistan probably was the greatest moment," Tendulkar, who made his international debut in a Test match against Pakistan in Karachi on November 15, 1989, said.
"It was a long journey and what I did after that was a reflection of my contribution to the game in the country. Playing for the country was my childhood dream and I have fulfilled my dream. I am fortunate to have played for my country for so many years," he added.
Asked what changes have occurred in the game in the 20 years of his career, Tendulkar picked the advent of Twenty20, television assistance for umpiring decisions and batting innovations as the major changes that have taken place.
"From 1989, the game has changed a lot from the introduction of third umpire and Hot Spot system to the introduction of Twenty20 and so many things", he said.
"The most significant is that lot of innovative shots which were earlier occasionally used are being played by the batsmen now," Tendulkar said.
"There is a lot more risk taking by the players now. Because of this, the total in the one-dayers have increased. Nowadays, 275 on a good pitch is not a great score."
"The same is the case in Test also. There are a lot more results now than in the past. Earlier, people used to get bored of Test cricket because there were few results but nowadays there has been more results and that has made it more entertaining," said the 36-year-old champion batsman.
Asked how much has changed in his game in the 20 years, Tendulkar said, "I have changed a lot. I am trying to improve myself every game. It is a never ending process as everyday is a fresh challenge. So it is hard job to be on your toes everytime."
"A combination of factors made me remain focussed on the game. My parents, brothers, sisters and wife supported me all through. My mother does not know cricket but will pray for my success and for the country. I discussed cricket with my elder brother a lot. The other brother and the sister also supported me. With my wife, I talk about cricket to her also and that is the main reason why I was able to last such a long time," he said.
"Above all, the affection and support from the cricket fans of the country was immense. You need people to share your success and I have more than a billion people. That is more than enough for me," Tendulkar said.
Since his debut Test against Pakistan in 1989, Tendulkar has played 159 Tests, scoring 12,773 runs with 42 centuries at an average of 54.58. From the 436 ODI matches he played since December 19, 1989 against Pakistan in Gujranwala, he had amassed 17,178 runs at an average of 44.50 with 45 hundreds.
Tendulkar thanked the millions of cricket fans in the country for showering him with love which was also a huge factor in him going strong for so many years.
"Above all, the affection and support from the cricket fans of the country was immense. You need people to share your success and I have more than a billion people. That is more than enough for me," the ace batsman said.
Asked about absence of any aggressive postures from him like some other cricketers worldwide, the master batsman replied that he was aggressive inside and did not need to show it with his body language.
"Aggression should be inside. It has to benefit you and not benefit your opponent. You can see aggression in the eyes of players," he said.
Tendulkar recalled how former Cricket Board president, the late Raj Singh Dungarpur, had walked up to him before the team for the 1988-89 tour to the West Indies was to be announced and told him he would not be on the visit as they felt he was not yet ready.
"There was talk when we (Mumbai) were to play the Ranji Trophy semifinal that I could be on the West Indies tour for which the team was to be announced. Rajbhai, the chairman (of selectors) came to me during nets and said I would not be going as it was too early.
"He told me to concentrate on preparing for my SSC exam and said there was the Irani tie coming up and good things will happen. His guidance meant a lot," he recalled.