Birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar is worried about post-COVID-19 pandemic cricket

Updated: Apr 24, 2020, 07:18 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who turns 47 today, wonders what would happen to post-pandemic cricket when applying saliva on the ball will be a thing of the past.

Sachin Tendulkar tosses a ball during the third Test against West Indies at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in November 2011. PIC/AFP
Sachin Tendulkar tosses a ball during the third Test against West Indies at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium in November 2011. PIC/AFP

The COVID-19 pandemic has not just made cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar realise the importance of freedom to do simple things in life. It has also left the record-breaking Indian batsman a bit worried about the impact it will have on his beloved sport.

In an interaction with mid-day over the phone on the eve of his 47th birthday on Thursday, the former India captain said he is expecting the sport to change where the dynamics of shining the ball is concerned. He also felt it will be strange to see matches being played before empty stands when action resumes.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

How do you see cricket when normalcy comes around?

Time will tell. You can't put saliva on the ball so how are you going to shine the ball as much? Those landing marks leave dry patches on the ball. How do you cover that all the time with sweat instead of saliva and still maintain the shine? If you are not going to shine the ball frequently then how will the ball swing? All these elements will come into play, which nobody is familiar with. So the game could change.

To get the ball to reverse [swing], you keep one side dry and then you keep shining the other side. So, how shiny would that other side be will also determine how much the ball is going to swing or reverse. As you keep shining one side, the other side gets automatically lighter.

Cricket boards are contemplating hosting matches in front of empty stands…

It's going to be strange because you are used to having crowds around and that noise, that buzz inside the stadium. When you hit a boundary or a six or pick a wicket, the crowd also becomes a big part of your celebration. You draw energy from the crowd when you hit a boundary. So, all that won't be there and it's going to be strange. It's like watching Wimbledon with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing but there are no spectators. It's going to look strange and feel different for sure.

Would you recommend closed-door matches?

This is the government's call, especially the health ministry. We have to follow their guidelines. Whatever they feel is safe should be done. I've tried to do the same things with whatever directives have been given. We have also tried to spread the message on our social media platforms. There are a lot of rumours floating around. It's important to convey the right message to everyone and show them the complete picture because rumours can sometimes disrupt your thought process and make you think otherwise.

How would you have handled this situation in your playing days and what's your advice to youngsters who are eager to be on the park again?

I would continue my training and I'm sure all players are continuing their physical preparations. But sometimes, it's good to give yourself a break after a reasonable long season. So it's good to get that break for a while and then come back to action. There are two elements—batting and bowling. One has to prepare yourself by practising various drills. The other would be to practise mentally by doing visualisation and mental drills. Both these elements coming together from a good combination for preparation. I fully understand that nothing beats being on the field, hitting the ball again. If someone who is thinking otherwise—that this is a period where I can't do much except sit back and relax—those guys will be caught napping.

What has the lockdown made you realise?

The freedom we have to do simple things in life. Like, the last time I met any outsider—that includes my friends—was March 15. So, it's a long time. The most important thing is freedom, the freedom to be what you like and go out, do certain things which you are not able to do now. These are different kind of circumstances, completely unprecedented. I cannot instruct elderly people, so my friendly message to them would be: You wished well for me for such a long time and prayed that I don't get out and stay at the crease. So, my wish for you is, not to get out too—from your homes. That way, you will be safe and secure. So, follow the government's guidelines and let's stay safe.

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