Vinod Kambli is known to have said a number of times early in his career that while Sachin Tendulkar 'took the escalator' to fame and fortune, Kambli himself 'took the stairs'.
Kambli hasn't over the years—since he last played international cricket at 28, going out with a Test average of 54—bothered to address his equally remarkable and rapid descent into obscurity. But he emerged on Thursday to sound off against Tendulkar, accusing the maestro of ignoring him in his farewell speech at the Wankhede, and of not inviting him to the grand goodbye party that was the talk of the town.
"Him not mentioning me in his farewell speech or not giving me an invitation though I've been a part of his life since he was 10 years old. Yes, I won't deny the fact that it did hurt me a lot because he forgot to mention that. The world record partnership was a turning point of our career, without each other's contribution, I wouldn't be who I am, and he wouldn't be our great legend," Kambli told Indian Express.
The reference he made was to the 664-run stand for Sharadashram Vidyamandir between the two former buddies—a legendary partnership that turned the schoolboys into household names in Mumbai. Tendulkar soon made his India debut and went from strength to strength. Kambli followed suit a few years later, but influences external to cricket—along with unfortunate injuries—put an end to his career.
Kambli confirmed that things had not been the best between the pair.
Not on talking terms
"We haven't been talking for the last seven years, but on occasions we do wish each other via text. A lot of people and our fans are asking me as to why he didn't mention my name in his farewell speech and why wasn't I invited for the party, which close friends and associates who played an important role in his career were a part of. Only Tendulkar can answer that.
"But still it won't make my love less for him in any way, irrespective of whether he considers me his friend or not... There are too many precious memories to cherish and remember throughout life," Kambli added.
It is ironical that, in hindsight, Kambli's career and carriage have provided the perfect foil to judge Tendulkar's against. While the Little Master exemplified the purest principles of batting and off-field behavior, Kambli, during and since his playing days, was often seen as the Devil's own.
"I used to enjoy my cricket from 9 to 5," he once said in an interview, “After that, whatever I did was my personal life."
Indiscipline, largely, and a questionable technique against sheer pace was what experts concur to be the reasons behind Kambli's untimely ouster—a turn of events that Tendulkar still considers as one 'of my biggest regrets'.
Kambli, who now lives in a cooperative housing society started by other former Mumbai cricketers, has certainly not endeared himself to anybody since his retirement. He owes the society Rs.10 lakh in dues that he refuses to pay and is considered to be an outright nuisance to other inhabitants.
Mumbai Mirror quoted former international Samir Dighe as saying, "He (Kambli) hurls abuses at security guards and speaks rudely to elderly people in the building. We have played together for about 15 years, it's very unfortunate that it's come down to this."
Another former India cricketer, Ramesh Powar, held that Kambli often parries the attempts of the society to help him sort out his problems.
"He doesn't acknowledge anyone's help and instead creates trouble by misbehaving with guards and drivers. Currently, he is occupying my parking space and I am unable to do anything about it since his phone is always unreachable. It is quite disappointing."
Tendulkar and Kambli, who sprung to eminence from the same side of the tracks, were truly cut from a different cloth.
PHOTOS FROM THE PARTY KAMBLI WASN'T INVITED TO: