Sunil Gavaskar on Sachin Tendulkar

I had heard and read about Sachin’s exploits at the school level but had not seen him play. Hemant Waingankar, who sadly is no more, was like my younger brother, and he used to tell me at every opportunity how good a batter young Sachin was. So no wonder when he drove me to the airport to catch a flight to London for the Bi-Centenary Test match in 1987, the topic came to Sachin. Anil Joshi was also in the car and mentioned that the young man was a bit upset that he had not received the prestigious Best Junior Cricketer award that the then Bombay Cricket Association used to give annually at their awards evening. So as we arrived at the airport on impulse, I asked for a pen and then, on the bonnet of the car, wrote a letter to Sachin asking him not to get discouraged but to keep working hard. I also mentioned that one name was missing from the list of those who had won the awards previously, and that person hadn’t done too badly in Test cricket.

A couple of months later, the Reliance World Cup happened, and that’s when I met the young man for the first time. He was a ball boy for the tournament for the matches at the Wankhede Stadium, and I invited him to the sanctum santorum, the Indian dressing room and introduced him to the rest of the team.

Rohit Sharma on Sachin Tendulkar

I stopped playing after the tournament, and since he was the only young man using the super lightweight leg guards I used to prefer, I sent him mine as I didn’t intend to play any cricket thereafter. A few days later, I went to the Wankhede Stadium to see him bat in the nets for the Mumbai Ranji Trophy probables. I watched from the dressing room since I didn’t want him to feel conscious about being watched. I saw a batter with so much time to play the quicker bowlers that he could hit them on whichever side he wanted. I remember coming home and telling my wife I had seen a special talent that day. He, of course, was still a schoolboy cricketer and hadn’t even played for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy then. A couple of weeks later, when I came home from the office, my wife said, ‘A young man is waiting for you; it must be the same guy you were talking about. He hasn’t looked up and has been staring at his toes all this while.’ It was indeed Sachin, and he had come to thank me for sending him the leg guards. He gave me a thank you card with his name written in block letters. I asked him to sign the card, and he scribbled a completely unreadable signature. I asked him if he had seen the signatures of Sir Don, Sir Garfield and even our own Vijay Merchant? I told him that even so many years after they retired, their signatures can be easily identified and that 50 years from now when fans look at autographs, they should be able to say, ‘Ah, that’s Sachin Tendulkar’s autograph.’ He nodded, and his next question floored me. He said, ‘Yes, but isn’t it easy to forge these signatures?’ I couldn’t help laughing, for a 14-year-old kid was conscious that his signature could be forged in the future.

Anjali Tendulkar on Sachin Tendulkar

*Extracted with permission from Simon and Schuster from Sachin@50


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