What has cricket taught you?
It has taught me a lot about life... Taught me to fight hard, to be patient... Cricket has taught me to be balanced... You could score a hundred one day and be out for a duck two days down the line.
I’d like you to be honest... Don’t you regret having quit international cricket as far back as November 2008? Couldn’t you have played for a season more? We’ve been struggling to get your replacement at No.6…
I do regret my decision sometimes, that I should not have acted in anger. But I did and... That bit is done and dusted... Yes, I could have played for another two years.
Why did you get angry?
I didn’t have one good series (in Sri Lanka) and, when the Irani Trophy squad was announced, my name was missing... I’d stopped enjoying my game because I was thinking about things not related to my game, to my cricket. I could have probably just said ‘Let them do what they want’ and wait for my time.
By ‘them’ do you mean Board officials or selectors?
Why do some keep raising the bogey of attitude?
If I had a bad attitude, I couldn’t have played Test cricket for 12-13 years... My teammates wouldn’t have praised my leadership during my years as captain... The other day, even Rahul praised me.
You haven’t ruled out playing in IPL-VI...
We have three-year contracts and I have a year to go (with the Pune Warriors India)... There’s time, let’s see.
What separates an average cricketer from one with that X factor?
Desperation... The want to succeed and the effort he makes to take the big steps.
Besides Sachin Tendulkar, who is the most talented cricketer you've seen in the past 20-odd years?
Rahul and Viru, both enormously talented.
To talk of your India years, what was the driving force?
Just playing for the country... Doing well gave a high... Hundreds gave immense satisfaction... I got Rs one lakh on the 1996 tour of England, where I got two Test hundreds, but nothing money-wise since has given the same satisfaction.
Do those two hundreds, including the one at Lord’s on debut, remain the high point of your career?
The biggest disappointment?
Reaching the final, but not winning the 2003 World Cup.
Moving away from cricket, you unleashed a storm by marrying the girl of your choice? Can we have something on the romance?
No... No... It’s an old story.
What’s your advice to those similarly placed?
Do what your heart says.
Your first date?
Can’t remember when.
Did you go to Flury’s or the nearest puchkawallah?
I honestly can’t recall, but it wasn’t Flury’s. Didn’t have the money to go there! When I was in school, my paternal grandfather gave me a daily allowance of Rs 2, so it’s not that I was used to having plenty on me to splurge.
What’s your take on the India of 2012, with scams surfacing every now and then?
I’m not qualified to comment on the scams and I don’t know what’s the truth...In the world of cricket, however, India calls the shots and that’s a matter of pride.
The last one... Not too long ago, it was assumed that you’d make it to Parliament, but Sachin has beaten you...
(Laughs) As a team, we (cricketers) decided that Sachin should represent us! Look, I have no interest in politics... Getting into politics will eat into my time for cricket.
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