Sports icons are rarely good interviews. They re usually tooconscious about their public image to be truly candid, and tend tospeak in bland bromides. So when TIME correspondent NilanjanaBhowmick and I met with India s cricket star Sachin Tendulkar inMumbai last month for a magazine profile that will appear in thisweek's issue of TIME, we were not expecting much. Although heis known as the Master Blaster for his swash-buckling batting,Tendulkar is famously reticent off the field. When he has giveninterviews, he has tended to steer clear of anything remotelycontroversial. |
He s also been careful not to reveal very muchabout himself, about what goes on in the mind of a man who srevered by his cricket-crazy countrymen as a kind of divinity. To our surprise, Tendulkar was in a chatty mood. Although heartfully dodged questions about politics (the interview took placea couple of weeks before he was appointed to the Indianparliament), the world s greatest batsman opened up about how hecopes with the burden of a billion dreams, his mental process onand off the pitch, and even about the anxieties of fatherhood. ( PHOTOS: The 2011 Cricket World Cup ) Excerpts from the interview: On how much attention he pays to the outsize impact he has on hiscountrymen: For me there was [always] a simple formula: be focused on cricketand the rest of the things will happen. Let people talk about it;me, I move forward.
Right from my school days, I have done that. Iknow that certain things I do or say have an impact on people;people appreciate certain things that I do. But any activesportsman has to be very focused; you ve got to be in the rightframe of mind. If your energy is diverted in various directions,you do not achieve the results. I need to know when to switch onand switch off: and the rest of the things happen around that.Cricket is in the foreground, the rest is in the background.
On how much attention he pays to media hype around him: If I get to hear casually about something someone s said about me,or see something in the papers, that s fine. I don t go lookingfor things. In the last few years, the hype has grown because thereis such fierce competition in the media. Earlier, you played 10shots, and maybe a couple of comments were made; today you play oneshot and there are 500 comments. The ball is the player s court,whether you want to follow every little thing or you want to keepyour mind blank and trust your judgment, trust your instincts andtake decisions.
I get 0.5 seconds to react to a ball, sometimes even less thanthat. I can t be thinking of what XYZ has said about me. I need tosurrender myself to my natural instincts. My subconscious mindknows exactly what to do.
It is trained to react. At home, myfamily doesn t discuss media coverage. It helps because I am ableto take my own decisions not influenced by somebody sayingsomething. On his expectations of himself: I don t think I woke up one morning and felt that there was thisresponsibility on me and that I needed to live up to thatexpectation. Something which still gives me sleepless nights is, How will I go out and keep that standard, and live up to my ownexpectations.
How am I going to go out and perform? That restlessness brings the best out of me, it s a healthy sign.At the start of my career, when I used to toss and turn at night, Iwas fighting that feeling and wanting to go to sleep. Now I knowthat s normal, so I ll just get up and watch TV or something. Iknow it s just my subconscious mind getting ready for a game.It s about knowing yourself, and I know myself better now. ( MORE: Sachin Tendulkar, India's Legendary Cricket Batsman, ReachesAnother Milestone ) On the importance of enjoying his cricket: So much happens [on and off the field] that sometimes you forget toenjoy the game. That s when things don t go smoothly.
I onlyrealized that in 2006, after I after my [shoulder] surgery, duringmy rehab. I played a couple of practice games, and there was nottoo much media, not too many people watching. I realized somethingwas very different: I was enjoying cricket. In retrospect, it wasimportant for me to play those games. That was game changer for me.I didn t even realize it had become so much about commitment andpressure, and doing this correctly.
Since then, there have been challenges along the way, some toughmoments. But I would speak to myself and say. It doesn t matterwhat the situation is, enjoy it. On his inner monologue while batting: Sometimes I chat to myself, sometimes I don t. Most of the time,it s my subconscious mind that s working.
I don t have time tocomplicate my mind, so I try to keep it empty. Being in thezone is when you re not thinking of anything, merely reacting. One would like to be in that zone more often, but it s not thateasy. It s like you are completely cut off from the crowd, fromthe noise they are making.
Your subconscious has taken over. I feel it s the conscious mind that messes things up. Theconscious mind is constantly telling you, this might happen or thatmight happen, even before it has happened. Your conscious mindtells you the next ball might be a out-swinger, but when it scoming at you you realize it s an in-swinger so literally,you ve played two balls.
On how often he is in the zone, and how he gets there: I would say 50% of the time I m in that zone. Sometimes I am thereinstantly, sometimes I get there through a couple of shots, andsometimes I m fighting to get that feeling. You focus on yourbreathing and all those kind of things. But it s not a guaranteedformula that works always On whether there s a direct correlation between the zone andthe runs he scores: Not really. You might be feeling unbelievably good, but you stillget out.
Sometimes you are not feeling good, but you struggle andstruggle, and the runs come. On whether getting into the zone is a matter of personalenjoyment, rather than achieving an outcome: It is. But I would want an outcome. On his switch-on/switch-off process: Switching on happens automatically.
I know that I am going to beplaying in three weeks, so I better start doing something. I getrestless. Even if I am holidaying and not doing anything training,jogging or going for walks I feel uneasy. It s become part of menow.
Whether I am playing or not, I need some activity and thathelps me to be normal, otherwise I am a little restless. I like togo and hit a few balls, even if it is for half an hour. I need tosee the ball coming towards me and get used to that pace and batswing and body moving; that s critical. ( SPECIAL: Sachin Tendulkar The 2010 TIME 100 ) To switch off is not an instant process.
It s only possible when Iknow I have a month and a half [between games] when I m not doinganything, and I m spending time with my children. That s when Iactually switch off and I stay away completely from cricket. I donormal things, like any father, any family man. On the challenges of being a father when he s likely to be mobbedby fans whenever he steps out of his house: It s a little unfortunate that I can t take [my kids] out forevening walks, or whatever.
In Mumbai, if I had to go out and be anormal father it's not possible. We go on holidays and thatis the time when I look to spend as much time with them aspossible. My son loves cricket, and I can play with him in Mumbai,because it happens in a controlled environment. On playing with his son Arjun, 11: He bats. He bowls a bit, too.
But he enjoys cricket and that smore important. Nobody has forced him into cricket, it s by hisown choice. As long as he is in love with cricket, it s fine. Thenyou don t look at your watch or count the number of hours you vepracticed.
It s the sheer joy and satisfaction of being on thefield. And that s what I want [for him]. I believe cricket startsfrom your heart and then it travels up to your brain as you growolder. First you have to be in love with the game, and my son is inlove with cricket.
On how he, raised in a middle-class home, transmits values to hiskids: I think it has a lot to do with interaction. My father never toldme what was right or wrong. He guided me, but most of the things Ilearned came from watching him. He never told me that I had to behumble, I just watched him [being humble himself] and I said, This is how I want to be in life. The most important advice he gave me was when he said, Mostthings are temporary, your cricket will also be temporary becauseat some stage you will stop.
But something that stays permanentlywith you is your nature, the person you are. So try and be a goodperson. People will appreciate that even after you ve stoppedplaying. So I try and tell my children the same thing. On the financial rewards he has reaped from cricket: When I started playing for India in 1989, I remember our entiretour fee was 50,000 rupees (approx.
$1,000 in today'sdollars) which included four test matches and four one-day games.And today, per test match, it s possibly 15 times more. When Isigned a contract with [sports management firm] Worldtel in 1995,we decided to do it to make my life easier, to ensure I did nothave to compromise on my cricket by spending an extra minutethinking about commercial things. I wanted to be completely focusedon the game, and let someone else managing the rest. Mark Mascarenhas [the CEO of Worldtel, who was killed in a carcrash in 2002] never said, If you do this or that, you will makemore money. He said, Just think of how to score more runs, therest you leave to me.
And that was the best formula for mebecause I just wanted to think about cricket, nothing else. I do[advertising] shoots, but not at the cost of compromising on mycricket. At no stage did I feel I would have to make compromises to earn anextra buck. I ll give you an example. There was a company whichwanted to sign a contract with me during 1996 World Cup, to puttheir logo on my bat.
But I had already played the first twomatches without a sticker on the bat: I was used to the way itlooked, and didn t want to change that in the middle of thetournament, didn t want the distraction. So I said, Offer mewhatever, I m not signing this contract. On how he plans for his future: My planning is only done match by match. I don t plan too farahead, I ve never done that.
At most, I plan for the nexttournament or series. I believe in approaching my targets step bystep, and don t look at the larger picture. On other sports icons who inspire him: I have followed lot of sports. In Formula 1, I like MichaelSchumacher. I ve followed tennis quite a bit, right from BjornBorg, John McEnroe to Roger Federer now.
I never felt that I shouldbe like them. You admire all those sportsmen. I love the wayFederer plays: it s incredible, but I ve still got to be myself. MORE : The Maasai Cricket Warriors.
The e-commerce company in China offers quality products such as China Contemporary Shaggy Rug , China Kids Play Rug, and more. For more , please visit Acrylic Area Rugs today!
Related Articles -
China Contemporary Shaggy Rug, China Kids Play Rug,