Sachin Tendulkar interacting with children at an event in Mumbai © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
Players/Officials: Sachin Tendulkar
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Sachin Tendulkar stressed the importance of “situational awareness” as a key factor in succeeding in the closing stages of IPL games. Tendulkar was speaking at an event in Mumbai and was asked by children how to score ten runs off the final over to win a T20 games. He said there could be no set formula.
“Basically you have got to see what the bowler is bowling and what his strengths are, weaknesses are,” Tendulkar said. “What are the areas where you can score off that particular bowler. There are many factors like the kind of surface you are playing on, the kind of field setting. What you need is awareness on field, you have got to have situational awareness. Once you have that, you respond to the situation according to the bowler and the opposition.”
At a gathering of about 200 people, which included amateur and aspiring cricketers, Tendulkar was asked about the technique behind his trademark straight drive and also recalled the amount of practice he put in during his formative years.
“All you need to do is your head position has to be right. To play a straight drive, your balance has to be good,” Tendulkar said. If your balance is not good then you are not going to be able to play straight, you either drag it with bottom hand to midwicket or you slice it to cover or cover point. But when your body is aligned nicely, you have good balance and good head position, then you can hit bowlers straight. For batting or bowling, generally on a cricket field, you have got to have good body balance.”
Tendulkar said everything else had to be set aside for excellence on the field. “First and foremost, to be madly in love with cricket is important. You can’t count the number of hours, the number of balls you have practiced, the number of balls that you have bowled. You can’t be counting. You can’t look at your watch. You have to just practise and practice.
“When I was your age, I practised quite long hours. I would start by 7.30 in the morning and finish by 7.30 in the evening. Eventually my coach had to sort of pack my kit bag and send me off saying ‘it is too dark to play cricket and we all want to go home’. My passion was such and [it’s] still alive. Boys like you or even girls now, whoever wants to become a cricketer, should be passionate about the game. Cricket should be in your heart first and then as you mature and grow, slowly you will find how to score runs and how to bowl [an] over, how to bowl spells. First cricket has to be in your heart and the rest follows.”
Tendulkar also stressed on the importance of concentrating solely on the game when on the field. “I don’t think about watching movies [when I bat]. You can’t think of anything else. Your mind is full of ideas, how to score against a particular bowler. Bowler is constantly asking you a question and you are responding to that question, whatever is delivered,” he said. “For that your focus has to be on the ball and the bowler. So I have no other thoughts on mind. I am just thinking of how many runs I can score and how we can win.”
With Ricky Ponting being his Mumbai Indians captains this year, Tendulkar said he didn’t think twice before passing on a tip to the former Australia captain. “Because I know little bit about our cricketers, which Ricky hasn’t had the opportunity to watch them much. Also a lot of things are planned in team meetings. But there are things that spontaneously come to your mind and you share your thoughts. So it is basically about sharing our knowledge and giving some background about the bowler.”