"Never a squiggle or an untidy scrawl. Always clearly written, always immediately identifiable"
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Sachin's astonishing achievements are documented in detail.
We know his wonderful cricketing gifts: still head, perfect balance, sense of timing, ability to pick length early, and mental discipline to shut out distraction.
However, not everyone is aware about the other qualities that make the Master special, for instance deep respect for the fan which is reflected, most strikingly, in the way he signs autographs.
If a man’s signature is supposed to reveal his character, surely the manner in which he writes his signature is as important.
Remarkably, Tendulkar always signs an autograph with full attention whereas many other celebrities scribble hastily while looking elsewhere or doing something else. Not Tendulkar.
Signing an autograph for him is serious business, done with concentration and undivided focus, with as much care as facing a bowler.
See his autograph from the time he started playing till now — it is unchanged, consistent.
Never a squiggle or an untidy scrawl. Always clearly written, always immediately identifiable.
Over the years, since 1992 when I was the manager of the Indian team that toured South Africa, I have seen all manners of people approaching Sachin for photographs and autographs, ranging from celebrities to mango people, often in situations when he had more important things to do.
But not one occasion comes to mind when he was rude, abrupt, brusque or impolite about the request.
That Sachin treats cricket, and the average fan, with deep respect is illustrated by an incident on a tour to England, when the Indian team was playing a practice game at Hampshire’s newly constructed Rose Bowl stadium. There was an elderly person who would come to the ground and stand patiently outside the dressing room, hoping Sachin would sign a coffee table book on him that had just been released. Two days passed without the gent being able to catch Sachin’s attention.
Seeing him suffer silently, I offered help and took the book to Sachin inside the dressing room.
On hearing the plight of the elderly fan, Sachin signed without a moment’s hesitation, came out to meet the person and posed for a photograph with him.
Later, I asked Sachin if he collaborated with the author for the coffee table book on him that he just signed.
“No. I was not aware of the author or the book. I saw this for the first time!”
(The writer is a former Indian team manager)
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