He might be revered by billions of fans but Sachin Tendulkar insists he is "not god of cricket" as many would like to call him as he does "make mistakes" unlike the almighty.
"I am not God of cricket. I make mistakes, God doesn't," Tendulkar said at a promotional event here yesterday.
The 39-year-old cricketer, who has almost all the batting records that are there to be taken under his belt, said growing up he wanted to be a combination of Sunil Gavaskar and Vivian Richards.
"I wanted to be like Sunil Gavaskar as a kid. When I grew up and started watching players from outside, someone who attracted me was Vivian Richards. Everything that he did was effortless. I always thought I should be a combination of these two," Tendulkar said, while answering questions from children.
The diminutive Mumbaikar, considered the most complete batsman in modern cricket, recalled the agonising wait he endured before getting to his 100th international hundred last year during the Asia Cup.
"When I got to my 100th international century, I was not jumping or celebrating. My first question to God was why did it take so long? What did I do wrong? With a billion plus people waiting for this, it shouldn't have taken so long," he said. "Where did I fall short? I used to practice hard, maybe harder. I got close to getting a hundred in the semifinal against Pakistan (in the 2011 World Cup) but at that stage, everybody's focus was on the World Cup. After that it was a big disappointment. But such is life, it is always better late then never," he said.
Asked what he would have been had it not been a cricketer, Tendulkar quipped he didn't really have much of a choice.
"I don't think there were many options for me, In school, the kids better not follow me. It's good to study. I tried maintaining a balance between my studies and cricket but it didn't work. I thought cricket was something which gave me sleepless nights. Such was my love for the game," he said.
"(But) at one stage in my life, I would go to the terrace with a tennis racquet in one hand and a cricket bat in the other. For 20 minutes it would be racquet, the next 20 would be cricket. I enjoy tennis. "It is difficult for me to imagine a life without cricket. If at all - tennis," said the veteran, who is often seen at the Wimbledon and other Grand Slams.
On wearing the national jersey and the effort he put in to earn it, Tendulkar said, "Wearing the India jersey and cap was the ultimate thing for me. After that it didn't matter if I had 10 pairs of jeans or 20 T-shirts. That journey to play for India was incredible. "I look back, being pushed around in trains and buses but I would be there well before practice started," he recalled.
Going down memory lane, Tendulkar said he thought his first Test, against Pakistan, would be his last as he found it hard to deal with the pressure. "The difference between standard of play (in Ranji and Tests) was way too much. I thought this is my first and last Test. When I came back to the dressing room, I was in tears. I thought it was way too good for me. After that I spoke to a few players, they told me not to worry," said the batsman, who got hit by a Waqar Younis bouncer but continued to bat in a bloodied T-shirt. "I wonder how did I survive for so long," he added.
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