New Delhi: There has been a raging debate whether the next crop of Indian youngsters are passionate enough about playing Test cricket but Sachin Tendulkar reckons that players cannot be forced into liking the longer format.
"To make someone like Test cricket, it has to come from within. There is no set formula that you have to do certain things and then you start liking Test cricket. I grew up dreaming about playing for India - that was the biggest thing I wanted to achieve: to play Test cricket for India and to do well," Tendulkar said.
"Every practice session I went out, I was prepared to work as hard as any of my coaches wanted me to; the only thing I wanted was an India cap. Yes, maybe there are individuals around who feel, 'If I don't play Test cricket I don't miss much.' You need not force them into something they don't want to be," he told ESPN.
"If someone wants to be in Test cricket, then he will find his way, will be ready to push himself as hard as anyone to realise his dreams. I don't like to push someone to like Test cricket and make him like Test cricket forcibly. I would just keep those two individuals separate," Tendulkar, who has scored 15470 runs from 188 Test matches, said.
Having played top flight cricket for 23 years now, Tendulkar has forged successful on-field partnerships with the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and now the next generation of players. Asked how he has managed to bond with the players, he replied, "It's important to know each other's nature, each other's personality, how they react to various situations... I have played with the current lot for some time, and there was one stage, when I was already a part of the Indian team for six years when Rahul and Sourav joined me.
"So in every generation this process has to take place. I can say that I have played with all of them, so that understanding is very much there," he added.
"You need to, for sure, pick up 20 wickets. You might not have to use 20 wickets while batting to win matches but you have to pick up 20 wickets while bowling - there is no short cut, no option. All I can say is that it just can't be good batting and bad bowling and vice versa. Also, backed by good fielding."
Tendulkar doesn't want to think too far ahead in India's effort to regain the No 1 ranking in Tests but take one series at a time. "We can't get that far ahead and start thinking of being No. 1 again. Yes, everyone wants to be No. 1 but there are certain steps that you need to take. You can't forget the process. First we play New Zealand, so we are going to be focusing only on New Zealand and nothing else. And then the England and Australia series. We can't jump to the month of March; that way you lose your focus," he stated.
The iconic batsman also said that he has never felt the need to prove anything to anyone. "I never wanted to prove anything to anyone ever. Not that it is only post-World Cup, because that would send wrong signals. I never thought I am out here to prove anything to anyone, but yes, one big target was winning the World Cup.
"Other than that my only aim was to enjoy the game of cricket. I have grown up playing cricket. I haven't done anything else in my life from a professional point of view.
"Cricket has been my life, my passion. I just want that to continue.""It has to come from within. There is no set formula that you have to do certain things and then you start liking Test cricket," Tendulkar said.