For long, Sachin Tendulkar had faced questions about his retirements. He had always held the view that he would quit the moment he feels he can’t keep up with the gruelling demands of international sport. He reiterated that view today as he addressed the media for the first time having retired from the sport a day earlier.
“I’ve always said I’ll tell you (the media) when I feel like I should stop,” he said today. “I have had injuries that have been tough to overcome. But there comes a stage where your body tells you ‘enough of this physical load.’ So I thought my body can’t take that load consistently. The training sessions were becoming an effort. Sometimes I felt I should just sit out and watch TV.”
“So questions came to my mind, and I needed to find answers. So I requested the BCCI that if these two matches (against the West Indies) are to be my last, let there be a game in Mumbai because my mother can attend it as she had never seen me play.”
“I wanted this to be a surprise for my mom. But through the media, she came to know of it. But coming back to the question, the moment I got the feeling I should stop playing, I stopped.”
‘MADE TEA, ENJOYED BREAKFAST WITH WIFE’
The master batsman said the feeling of retirement hasn’t sunk in. “I woke up at 6.50 this morning, then I realised I don’t need to quickly have a shower and be ready for the match,” he said. “I made myself a cup of tea, enjoyed a breakfast with my wife. It was a relaxed morning. A lot of guys sent me their wishes, I spent some time responding to their SMSs. The morning was relaxed.”
“Last night, I sat there, and the feeling had not sunk in that I won’t play anymore. Maybe I will find an occasion to play somewhere but I have retired with no regrets. I felt this was the right time to stop playing cricket. All I can say that it was an enjoyable journey.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
Tendulkar said his association with the sport would continue in some form. “Cricket is oxygen to me,” he said. “In my 40 years, 30 I have spent playing cricket. My association with the sport will continue. Maybe not immediately, but surely in the near future.”
He said he is attracted by the thoughts of starting his own academy and grooming young sportspersons. “It’s a nice thought. I’d like to be involved with youngsters. I’ve been interacting with young players from U-19 and Ranji teams. I’ve not made this public. They’ve been low-profile and private interactions. It’s a nice thing. These interactions teach you things about the game.”
Responding to a query about taking cricket to the Summer Olympics, he said, “It’s been hardly 24 hours since I retired; give me some time to breathe. We’ll pick this up later.”
Invariably, there were questions about his son Arjun picking up the game after him. Tendulkar asked the media to leave him alone and not draw comparisons between them.
“As a father, I’ll ask you to leave him alone and not have expectations and draw comparisons with me,” he said. “If I had followed my father, there would have been a pen in my hand and not a bat, since my father was in the field of literature.”
“Arjun is passionate about cricket. You have to be madly in love with the sport to be able to give it your best. As far as performance goes, I won’t pressurise him and neither should you. He should just enjoy the game. The script ahead for him will be decided by god.”
‘BHARAT RATNA FOR ALL MOTHERS’
Having become the first sportsperson to receive the Bharat Ratna, Tendulkar dedicated the honour to mothers: his own, and the countless, faceless many who toil for their children.
“As a child you don’t understand what parents go through to make you happy,” Tendulkar said. “The beauty of it all is that I was never told what all was done for me. Going further, there are millions and millions of mothers who sacrifice thousands of things for their children, and I would like to share this award with them.”
Tendulkar also congratulated CNR Rao, the scientist who has won the award alongside him. “It’s a great honour to be named alongside Dr. CNR Rao, as his contribution to science is immense. Cricket is played in the public sphere hence seen by thousands of people, but not many can be witness to scientific achievements. I would like to congratulate him for winning the award.”
THANKS TO THE FAMILY
Tendulkar said it was his family’s unwavering support that had kept him going. “The beauty of my family is that they never lost their balance, whether I scored 15-20 runs or a hundred,” he said. “They always encouraged me. I was able to perform since my school days since that balance was maintained. If I did well, like any other family we bought a pack of sweets and offered it to the almighty to thank him. That tradition continues. That’s what I’ve learnt from my parents... and when you grow up, you appreciate life.”
Tendulkar’s mother Rajini was present at the Wankhede Stadium, a break from her tradition of never watching him play. She was happy with the experience. “Earlier, we were not sure if she would come since it is difficult for her to travel,” Tendulkar said. “I could see in her eyes that the occasion was special for her. But her reaction was controlled and balance. She spoke more through her eyes and I could sense that.”
(Read a longer transcript of this press conference here)
See Y! Cricket's full news coverage of Sachin Tendulkar's retirement.