When EDGAR met Sachin Tendulkar

The Little Master tells us about his sleepwalking incidents and that time he got stuck in the Dubai-Sharjah traffic for way too long.

Meryl D'Souza May 16, 2017

Even before Sachin Tendulkar went on to make his debut against Pakistan at the tender age of 16, he was a star. Sunil Gavaskar, who had retired in 1987 after becoming the first man to cross 10,000 Test runs, had written him an encouraging letter; Kapil Dev, India's finest all-rounder, had bowled to him in the nets and no one was even remotely worried that the young boy who went on to score more than 25,000 runs and 100 centuries was going to face established fast bowlers like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

We caught up with the cricket legend while he was here to promote his biopic Sachin: A Billion Dreams.

Tell us a little bit about your new biographical drama?
It was a wonderful experience and luckily, I didn’t have to act. We’ve tried to keep things as real as possible. Everyone in the cricketing world knows the number of runs I’ve scored and other statistics but no one knows what was going on in my mind during those highs and lows. With this movie, we wanted to provide that insight. 

So it finally seems you’re willing to let people into your personal life, considering you’ve been such a private person.
To an extent. By nature, I’m a private person. I understand that my fans and the people who dedicate their time to see me play what to know more, but there’s only so much I'm willing to reveal. And we have tried to bring out as much of my life in this movie as possible.

I’m told the movie gives us a peek into your love life as well. How did you feel when Anjali (Tendulkar’s wife) first hit on you?
It felt so odd. I was just starting out with my career having played a few matches for India. She didn’t have a clue about cricket and what I did. Luckily, I don’t have a clue about medicine. We were two clueless people who just met. It was meant to be.

When you first started playing cricket, it took a while for you to get into the team despite being a big name. Why?
It’s easy to forget but I was 15 when I started playing. I was in the 10th standard. Raj Singh Dungarpur, who was the president of the selection committee at the time, told me to concentrate on my studies. So although I was already the highest run-scorer at the Ranji Trophy and people waited for me to start playing for the national team, Dungarpur Sir wanted me to complete that part of my education.

Is it true that you used to sleepwalk as a kid?
It is. There are so many incidents but the one I like the most is just before a Test match against Pakistan. I was supposed to get new bats before that test match and was a little nervous. I went to bed at around 10pm the night before. I’m told I got up at around 11:30, walked around to my teammates who were awake and used to my antics by then and asked them to give me my bat. They just sent me back to bed. 

Playing for India, you have travelled a lot. Which is your favourite place to tour?
I’ve always loved Australia and England.

But what if I asked you to choose one?
Then I’d say, Sydney. Mostly because I scored more runs there.

According to you, what’s your best ODI inning?
I’ve had quite a few unbelievable experiences, but I’d say the Sharjah knock against Australia is right up there among my favourites. The sandstorm was something I’d never experienced before. Plus during those days, we had very little recovery time.

Why so?
Despite playing in Sharjah, our hotel would be in Dubai. So after a long, gruelling game, we would have to sit through the traffic just to get back. I remember this one time, we reached the hotel at three in the morning because of traffic.

Speaking of traffic, you have an enviable car collection. What’s your favourite from the fleet?
The BMW i8 for sure. it handles beautifully.

Lastly, your cricket heroes growing up?
Sunil Gavaskar and Sir Viv Richards were, and still are, my cricket heroes.