Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar on Mumbai cricket and his vision
Batting icon Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want the Mumbai Ranji team to play under undue pressure from their past achievement, but be inspired by it. Excerpts from an interview
The Mumbai Ranji Trophy team will kick off their season with an away clash against Andhra from October 1. Time and again Aditya Tare & Co will be reminded of Mumbai's rich cricketing history, having won the Ranji Trophy 40 times.
His master's voice: Sachin Tendulkar in an animated discussion with the Mumbai Ranji Trophy and under-23 squad at BKC ground yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
However, Mumbai and India stalwart Sachin Tendulkar does not want the young side to be put under pressure of past achievements.
Tendulkar spent nearly three hours with the Mumbai Ranji Trophy and U-23 players during their practice session at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground yesterday.
Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit arranged for an interaction between the legendary Indian batsman and the players. Tendulkar not only monitored the practice session, but also passed on tips to help the players fine-tune their skills. He also had one-on-one sessions with several youngsters.
Tendulkar took out some time to talk to mid-day about Mumbai cricket and his vision.
On his interaction with the Mumbai team:
It's a young team. Certainly, the players will have to work hard to make it count to be able to have a successful season. It's a journey where there are going to be ups and downs. The players will have to stay together and be prepared to ride those ups and downs as a team. They have to play as a team. If you are batting, don't think you are batting for yourself. You are batting on behalf of the team… you have a non-striker guy. Think about building partnerships rather than about I am going to do this. It is not about 'me' it is about 'we'. Bowl in partnerships, field as a team and put pressure on the opposition. That is where things start changing. When you are going through tough times, these are small things which will add to making a big contribution as a team. That is what the good teams do.
On Mumbai's semi-final finish in last Ranji season:
I wasn't surprised. Mumbai cricket has a terrific history. The track record has always been that even if we were in a difficult situation, we were known to overcome those obstacles and fight till the end. I am not against losing. There are two teams – one is going to win and the other one has to lose. You (have to) put up a good fight, but not surrender, and Mumbai is not known to surrender. Mumbai is known to fight till the end, so I wasn't surprised with last year's turnaround. We have done that earlier too. I just feel if players stick together… there are a couple of them who have been around like Abhishek (Nayar). There are promising youngsters like Surya (kumar Yadav). Rohit (Sharma) and Ajinkya (Rahane) obviously won't be there, but Dhawal (Kulkarni) is there. (Aditya) Tare is there too. If all these players get together and keep the team tighter and closer, we have the talent to do something. That unpredictability factor and uncertainty of the sport will always be there, but it is all about how you prepare yourself. I am sure the preparation is going to be good. Players have plans to play some pre-season practice matches in Hyderabad, which is a good sign. These kind of matches where you play as a team allows you to be better prepared.
On the pressure of being 40-time Ranji champions:
Whatever we have won so far, we have to take confidence from it and move forward. There should be no pressure, but confidence that the earlier generation has done this. There is no reason why we can't continue doing it. These feats are not easy to achieve and repeat. You have to work very hard for it and these players are ready to work hard. By focusing only on the results every time, it becomes difficult. The focus shifts. Your focus should be on the process and not on the result. Results will follow.
On Mumbai being supply line for the Indian team at one point:
At no stage are you consistently going to have five to six players in the international team from one state. It's a cycle which keeps changing. You can't always be at the top, but the question of how quickly you can get there again is something we need to find out. As long as we are making a sincere effort to get there again, it is fine. One feels proud that Mumbai cricket has contributed significantly as far as Indian cricket is concerned. It should continue, but there shouldn't be any pressure. It should be an enjoyable journey where the players feel good about reaching to the top. And then, to stay there is more important. Playing for the country is the first innings, but the second innings is a longer innings which requires more commitment and effort.
On which aspect of Mumbai cricket needs attention:
Mumbai cricketers need to have more matches and more opportunities. I have said this earlier and that starts from grassroot level. That's the only reason I had said this a few years ago that 13, 14 players should get to play. It is all about giving more chances and more match practice. Things will not change overnight, but there will be a change.
On Dr HD Kanga Cricket League being played in monsoon again:
Kanga League gave us a different format to enjoy. At no stage you will get an outfield with grass one-and-a-half feet high. You are not going to get those sorts of wickets in first-class matches either. Adapting and adjusting to those conditions was fun. It teaches you to play with softer hands. I have fond memories of that.
On other states producing good results:
It is a positive sign for Indian cricket that other teams are also performing well. You never grow by pulling down someone else. You grow by doing what the other teams are not being able to do. How we can do better than others is what everyone should think. I would like to give credit to the BCCI for spreading the game and developing it in rural areas. With the help of role models, youngsters get an impetus to make it as their career. Cricketing goods are now available in small towns as well which wasn't available earlier.