mid-day's 38th anniversary special: Sachin Tendulkar's tribute to his first agent-friend
Batting icon pays tribute to his late agent and friend Mark Mascarenhas, who made him cricket’s first multi-milllionaire in 1995
Sachin and Mascarenhas during the launch party of Cricket Talk magazine in 2000, Mumbai. Pic/Midday Archives
I was in Sri Lanka for a tournament in 1994 when Ravi Shastri comes up to me and says, "I want you to meet a friend. He wants to sign you up and manage your commercial side." That friend was Mark Mascarenhas.
After our first meeting, I was keen that Mark met my father and brother so that we understood what he had in mind. He did that and we decided to work together. The comforting factor for me was that Mark was passionate about Indian cricket, he loved watching cricket and understood the game. With me, there was a clear understanding that all promotional activities would not happen at the cost of my practice sessions. My schedule was never to be disturbed.
There were people who were not comfortable with Mark signing me up. They felt I was losing focus on the game and concentrating more on endorsements. In reality, it was the other way round.
Mascarenhas gives Tendulkar a hug after India’s win over Australia in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Sharjah on April 24, 1998. Pic/AFP
The agreement at home was clear - we are not going to waste time negotiating contracts and then thinking about which clauses to include and what to leave out. Mark would handle that. I never concerned myself with the number of contracts I would gather. My concern or worry was how much more I could add to a cricket team, not my bank account.
There was never an occasion when Mark came to me and said, 'Today's practice session should be skipped because we've got a big contract coming up.' My cricket was always in the foreground; everything else came later. What a sportsman expects from an agent was something he understood well. I remember him telling me, 'you just focus on scoring runs and leave the rest to me.'
Obviously, Mark had to run an organisation (WorldTel), but I never got the feeling that he was trying to push me somewhere so that he could make an extra buck. He was only trying to guide me and saw my potential when it came to promoting various brands.
I stayed away from all negotiations. When something came up, he used to say, "This is what the contract offers; this is what we have been able to get for you. Do you want to go ahead?" The ball was in my court.
Through the '90s, I got to know Mark well. I visited his home in America and we also holidayed together in India with Ravi. Mark was more of a family member to me. When I got the news of my father's death during the 1999 World Cup and had to fly back for the funeral, Mark and the BCCI made all the arrangements. In fact, he was with me when we drove to the airport from Leicester. He was instrumental in making a lot of things happen.
Whenever I performed well, I knew I'd get a call from him no matter where in the world he was. Of course, he was there for me through tough times as well.
His tragic death [in a road accident on January 27, 2002] left me in shock and disbelief. Mark had spoken to me just the previous day. I remember leaving after the Kanpur ODI against England for his funeral in Bangalore and returning to Delhi for the next game.
He left a legacy. I was the first Indian cricketer to sign such a deal and he was the first to have signed a player in this fashion. He was also the first one to have a vision. In a way, he became a role model for management companies, who would go on to handle sports personalities.
I remember him telling me in 1998 that he had received a call from Australia inviting me to meet Sir Donald Bradman on his 90th birthday. Mark made all the arrangements for that Adelaide trip and travelled with me for my big moment, but he was happier when we beat Australia in Sharjah. That warm embrace from him after our victory had to be part of my film!
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