Rajdeep Sardesai: I have with me the two legends of the game, the world’s 12,000 Test-run man, and the first 10,000-run man of the game, a staggering 22,000 runs between my two guests today, the one and only Sunil Gavaskar and the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. If I go by the statistics, do you know how many centuries you have scored between the two of you in international cricket? Who has a better mathematical mind? Mr. Gavaskar, you would usually know how many hundreds have been scored?
Sunil Gavaskar: No, I am not Geoffrey Boycott here.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You have scored more than a hundred hundreds between the two of you, if you include test cricket and one day internationals, but Sachin, 12,000 runs, has it sunk in? What does it mean to have scored 12,000 test runs?
Sachin Tendulkar: To be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in; I was just focusing on the ball because till I scored the runs whoever met me, the first question was, you have to do it and when are you doing it? So I was literally fed up answering them. I don’t play for records and I just want to play my game and enjoy my cricket rather than chasing records. I know if I go and do that records will be broken automatically and I don’t need to focus on that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is that the same way you felt when you scored 10,000 runs was it every day somebody telling you that Mr. Gavaskar, when are you scoring 10,000 runs?
Sunil Gavaskar: 10,000 was not something that people looked at, it was basically when one got close to that 29th century mark of Sir Donald Bradman, that was the time people, after the 28th century, you got off the aircraft and the aircraft maintenance guys would ask you about it, you had room service breakfast, the guy who delivered it, instead of asking for a complimentary match-ticket, he would say we want your 29th century here, so the pressure used to build up every time you went to the ground, we didn’t have Ipods then so we had to listen to the “tali’s” as well as “gaali’s”.
Rajdeep Sardesai: How do you deal with pressure? Do you keep it out, when you are out there; you keep out all the records?
Sachin Tendulkar: It’s not that easy to switch off from all these things, our sub-conscious mind grasps all these things and somewhere it is stored. Even if you don’t want to focus all these things, the room-service guy will remind you of it, so somewhere its stored and that’s the last thing you want, you want to go out there with a blank mind . You just have to go out and bat, watch the ball as closely as possible and bat.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr. Gavaskar, you used to say something that I still don’t quite believe that you never used to know your score that you did not even know when you were on 99?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes because I was not interested in how many runs I was batting on, I was only interested in how many runs I got after I got out.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you never had a look at the scoreboard?
Sunil Gavaskar: I had a vague idea, for the simple reason, because if you are on 46, and you know you need four runs to get to a 50, you might play a shot to a ball which you normally wouldn’t in just trying to get that boundary. If you are on 96 you might play a shot that would get you out, so the thing to do would be to forget how many runs you are and then only see your score when you got out.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you the same Sachin?
Sachin Tendulkar: No, I do look at the scoreboard .
Rajdeep Sardesai: So, in a sense, both of you legends had a very different approach to run making. Did you, Mr Gavaskar, for example, go ten runs at a time?
Sunil Gavaskar: I did it in sessions, not in 10s and 20s, again you are putting yourself under pressure when you are looking at any target. As I said, it could be that you are on six, and you would say let me go to 10 and my next target will be 20, so you are putting yourself under that pressure. You just play by sessions, so you know that you have to play two hours before lunch, two hours until tea and then one and a half hours, it was five and a half hours. So if you did that, at the normal scoring rate, you knew you might get your 100 somewhere.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Was that your philosophy too Sachin, bat session by session?
Sachin Tendulkar: I played a little differently, a lot depended on my rhythm, my bat swing and if I felt everything was going well on that particular day, then I would sometimes choose the bowlers, like these are the bowlers that I am going to go after and I felt that in patches you score plenty of boundaries and then all of a sudden, you get these strike bowlers bowling disciplined lines and you need to just hold yourself back a bit and set different targets. There have been occasions where I have gone into the field with the frame of mind that I am going to bat at least for a session and then look at the next session to attack. Sometimes, in the first session, I tell myself that I am just going to try and hang in there, try and spend as much time as possible, it varies match by match.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What always strikes out that even in the way you are dressed, Sachin is dressed in a brightly colored T-Shirt, and Mr. Gavaskar is in a long sleeved formal shirt, both of you have scored remarkable runs and are run-machines but both of you have done it very differently, is that the way cricket is, different players, can be run-machines but by approaching the game very differently?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes, there are different methods to getting runs, it also depends on the kind of game that you have, you could be a front foot player, you could be a back foot player, you could be good on the off-side, your grip might be suited to an on-side game. There are different methods of getting runs and in the Indian team itself you have got Sachin, you have got VVS, you have Virendra Sehwag, they all have different methods of dealing with same kind of a delivery.
Rajdeep Sardesai: The reason I ask this to the two of you because Sachin, you grew up, in a sense we all grew up in the 1980s hearing about the legend of Sunil Gavaskar and you were inspired by him and yet you’re batting was very different?
Sachin Tendulkar: I had two heroes while I was growing up and they are still my heroes, Mr. Gavaskar sitting next to me and Vivian Richards and I felt I would want to grow up and play cricket like my heroes, the dream was that every time any particular thing happened in school matches or practice sessions, I would say, “Gavaskar never did that”, even today that happens.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is there a West Indian tucked inside Sachin somewhere, he is closer to Vivian Richards in a sense than Sunil Gavaskar when it comes to the art of batsmanship?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes, particularly when he goes down the track on the spinners, his back-lift is so much like Richards, the way he uses his wrists when he does that, I say to myself, “Oh this is so much like Vivian Richards when he does that, lofts the spinner over the top” . There is a lot of Vivian Richards in him except one thing that Vivian used to do was plonk his front foot there and whip everything down the leg side, Sachin is classically correct, he would play mostly on the off side.
Rajdeep Sardesai: There are in a sense two schools of batting, the Gavaskar style which wears down bowlers and one which destroys bowlers like Sachin. Mr Gavaskar, do you want to bat like Sachin Tendulkar sometimes when you see him, especially in One Day cricket?
Sunil Gavaskar: Look, this is what happens with the former cricketers, they have unfulfilled aspirations, dreams some times and when the next generation comes and does, there is a great feeling of enjoyment, I enjoy watching Sachin, Sehwag bat, because they do the kind of things that I wanted to do but was not able to do, probably it was a mental block.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You could probably count the number of sixes you have hit in test cricket on the fingers of one hand, right Mr Gavaskar?
Sunil Gavaskar: No, I think I have hit a little more than Geoffrey Boycott!!
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin, is there something that you have learnt from the Gavaskar school of batting? What is it that one quality of Sunil Gavaskar that always struck out to you as a batsman?
Sachin Tendulkar: It’s everything about him because growing up as a budding cricketer and wanting to play for India, it was the ultimate dream and you had the ultimate player whom we actually had this pleasure of watching from a close distance, the concentration and the determination, the dedication, the confidence to play fast bowling.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Did you ever go to Mr Gavaskar over the years for special things; I believe from time to time he would tell you if something he felt was going wrong in the grip or some small mistakes?
Sachin Tendulkar: Right from my Ranji Trophy days, before my Ranji Trophy debut he presented me his leg guards, so right from those days I would say I have always shared my thoughts with him and he has shared his thoughts with me and it has been tremendous help and what else can you ask for.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Gavaskar, I have to ask you, and be honest, when you first saw Sachin bat, did you think one day this boy will be a part of this elite 10,000 club, will go on to score 12,000 runs?
Sunil Gavaskar: I think yes, I have to be absolutely honest and say if he was not going to be beset by any injuries, he was going to have all the batting records in the world. Please ask my wife of what I felt when I first saw him bat. I had heard so much about him, I went and saw him from a corner because I didn’t want him to be conscious that I was standing behind the nets so I was hiding in a corner and I watched him bat and I went home and I said to my wife that I had seen something really special, she said you have never said this about any cricketer before. And I can tell you she has followed his cricket career as avidly as any other Indian.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What is that one quality you think you need to become a run machine, whether its a Gavaskar or a Tendulkar, is it just technique, what makes a 10,000 club player according to you?
Sachin Tendulkar: It’s the desire and it’s extremely important to dream big and then you chase your dreams and that is extremely important and then the passion because I grew up loving the sport and I cannot imagine my life without cricket and if anyone had given an option to choose, I would choose cricket 100 out of 100 times.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You say you would chase your dreams, was your dream even in 1987-88 when you were started off to score 10,000 runs, did you say to yourself there is Sunil Gavaskar, with 34 test hundreds, I want to score more than that?
Sachin Tendulkar: There was always this target of 34 hundreds and growing up as a cricketer, my brother always told me that if you want to be something in the history of Indian cricket this is what you have to chase because this is the ultimate thing and Gavaskar is your role model, so you have to try and follow all those things and it was my target.
Rajdeep Sardesai: One thing about Gavaskar’s game which you consciously tried to adapt, was it the focus or just the ability to be there session after session wear down bowlers, is that something you maybe sub-consciously or consciously learnt from Mr. Gavaskar?
Sachin Tendulkar: It is obviously the concentration and the discipline, you have to be disciplined, to have an organized mind and once your mind is organized, it all just follows and when your mind is disorganized, it’s tough.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Gavaskar still plays badminton everyday at four o’clock if he is in Mumbai, are you like that kind of a person Sachin? Do you have a set schedule, once you go out and bat, the same thing that you have done year after year?
Sachin Tendulkar: No, not really, I go by my instincts. There are times when just before going to bat I feel like listening to some music. I have done two different things, opening in one day cricket is different and batting in the middle order in test cricket is different, in one day cricket I can be still listening to music and as soon as the umpires are out and the fielders are out, I immediately remove my ear-phones and keep them aside and just walk in to bat but in test cricket, I don’t know at what time I have to walk in so its difficult and it requires a different preparation, not only physical preparation but mental preparation.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin always makes batting sound so ridiculously easy. It’s easy to say you want to be focused, determined, passionate, but Sachin has translated it on the ground, what’s the one that’s always struck out for you, Mr Gavaskar about Sachin through these twenty years, something you believe makes him stand apart from anyone else you have seen?
Sunil Gavaskar: Balance, which is the most important thing, he has got balance on the field and that is helped by a great extent by balance off the field. Without balance, so many potentially great cricketers have been lost, it’s the balance off the field which is so important and to have that balance off the field you need people around you who will make sure that you have your feet on the ground, the family becomes such an important aspect in keeping that balance.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You both are strong family men, is there something about the Maharashtrian middle class mind-set perhaps, Mr Gavaskar grew up in the Dadar area, Sachin, you grew up in MIG colony in Bandra, is there something that kept the feet on the ground, in your case Sachin your father I believe played a huge role?
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes in cricket I had different role models and in my life I had my father as my role model, I always felt that if I can be half as good a person as my father was, I know that I am on the right track.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Your father I believe was a very calm man?
Sachin Tendulkar: Absolutely.
Rajdeep Sardesai: That’s what he gave you in your life?
Sachin Tendulkar: Very calm and balanced, never lost his temper never raised his voice, he was absolutely calm and balanced and I always wanted to be like that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Any similar person like this in your life Mr Gavaskar ?
Sunil Gavaskar: My parents were a big help, my wife, they were the ones who kept me grounded, upbringing is so important and I am not just talking about the upbringing that you get when you say please, thank you, whatever but cricketing upbringing also and in the respect of cricketing upbringing, I would thank the people I played with at Dadar Union, the team mates there, people like VS Patil, PK Kamath, Madhav Mantri, the discipline he had, he was my mama, Vasu Paranjpe, they were the guys who came with the kind of upbringing that got me where I was.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What also stood out for me all these years was that both of you raised your game when you played the best teams of your time, Mr Gavaskar when you played West Indies, Sachin when you played Australia. Do you raise your game Sachin, for example, when you played a Shane Warne or a Glenn Mcgrath?
Sachin Tendulkar: I wish I could do that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But you did, you destroyed Shane Warne at his peak.
Sachin Tendulkar: It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, it is about cricket to me and whenever there is a cricket bat in hand I want to give my best, I am not there to fool around, I am not there to make any compromises, I want to go out and give my best, it might be even a practice game but I just want to give my best.
Rajdeep Sardesai: I was hearing Javed Miadaad the other day, trying to compare Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar and Javed was saying it was much more difficult playing in the 70s because you had to play sides with four fast bowlers. Do you ever compare, do you believe it’s fair to compare a Tendulkar with a Gavaskar.
Sunil Gavaskar: Not at all, it’s unfair because I would like to think what Sir Don Bradman said and it holds true and he said that a champion in one era would be a champion in another era, so I don’t think comparisons are required, comparisons are good for the fans and the followers of the game and I don’t think cricketers ever indulge in comparisons, they might go on a nostalgic trip and say that during our days things were tougher, but I don’t think cricketers often compare.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What’s more difficult, facing four West Indian Fast Bowlers in the 70s or playing a mix of one day, 20 20 and test cricket today? I am sure both were equally difficult?
Sachin Tendulkar: Cricket is a difficult game and hats off to Mr Gavaskar how he managed to play four genuine quick bowlers without a helmet.
Sunil Gavaskar: And nothing inside to protect (points to his brain and laughs).
Rajdeep Sardesai: But Mr Gavaskar, you never got hit on the head or probably just once. But then again, today fielding has improved out of recognition. Sachin, do you also subscribe to the view that if you are a great player in one generation you are a great player always ?
Sachin Tendulkar: yes I agree with that, once you are a great player in a particular generation, then it doesn’t matter because that player knows how to adjust to different conditions. In every generation, you play in so many different conditions, on many different pitches and against many different bowlers and all those things requires adjustment. In the end, its about adjustment in this game and if you can adjust to the conditions, then you can play in any generation.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Your proudest moment Mr Gavaskar on a cricket field?
Sunil Gavaskar: it has to be the 1983 world cup win and nothing can beat that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: And that’s because you took those catches in the slips and not because of your batting? So ironically even after scoring 10,000 runs for you the greatest moment was not the runs you scored but the victory?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes absolutely and nobody gave us a chance and we played good cricket and we won the world cup so that has got to be the number one moment.
Sachin Tendulkar: For me it was the first time I wore India cap, it was my dream to play for India and even today nothing gets bigger than that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You still remember that day against Pakistan?
Sachin Tendulkar: Yes, I have a vague memory because I was so excited, I was talking to a couple of friends and I said that the whole tour is a vague memory because I was so excited. I was raring to go out on the field and those six hours were just so exciting.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin, I saw a photograph of you the other day of that Pakistan Tour playing some friendly match and you look like a 12 year old and there you were playing Waqar Yunis, Imran Khan, Abdul Qadir, you never felt that you were out of that place?
Sachin Tendulkar: Probably just for the first test match, I felt I was out of place, I was unsure whether I belonged here or not, I was just hoping for another opportunity. The second test match I had decided that come what may I am going to spend minimum 45 minutes here and then see what happens because the players around me told me that, the first fifteen minutes are always tough and once you have stayed there for longer than 25 or 30 minutes then things start changing gradually. And that’s what I guess happened, after the first 20 minutes, batting became much easier.
Rajdeep Sardesai: In a sense, Mr Gavaskar, you started out very differently, you started off scoring 774 runs in your first series, and you were already were 21 by then and Sachin was just 16 when he made his debut. Was it harder for him?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes, absolutely harder because I do believe that a batsman needs a little bit more experience before coming at the international level, a quick young bowler, you might throw him into the fire straight away at the age of 16-17 because he has the strength and energy but I believe young batsmen are better off having a couple of seasons at the domestic level before they are put at the international level.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Your best innings ever? Any innings to you which stands out where you felt Sachin Tendulkar the batsman would be fully satisfied with it? I know you are never satisfied?
Sachin Tendulkar: I am always happy and never satisfied; I would say my favorite innings would be in 1992 against Australia when I scored 100 in Perth and that is when I felt that, yes, now I am here to play cricket anywhere in the world, any bowling attack I am confident enough to tackle them.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You’re best ever innings Mr Gavaskar?
Sunil Gavaskar: It was the innings of 57, the one at Old Trafford against England, I had never played on the green pitch, and it was a green pitch there was good seam bowling, there was a bit of a drizzle which was freshening the pitch and you couldn’t go off the field because of the drizzle, so I would imagine that was the best.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Who was the best bowler that you have faced?
Sunil Gavaskar: The best bowler is going to be Andy Roberts.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin Tendulkar, the best bowler that you have faced?
Sachin Tendulkar: I never singled out any particular bowler as such, there have been many bowlers who I faced at different stages who really have done well but if I have to pick one then it would probably be Glenn McGrath.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Just for always being there and attacking a batsman all the time?
Sachin Tendulkar: I thought he was in the channel all the time and you had to play a disciplined game against him all the time.
Rajdeep Sardesai: If you had to pick one batsman to bat for your life, who would that be? You can use present company as well.
Sunil Gavaskar: The closest thing to batting perfection is Sachin Tendulkar, no question about that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin who would you pick? You have to pick one player and you need him to bat for your life? You don’t have to pick Mr. Gavaskar.
Sachin Tendulkar: It goes without saying, I would pick him because he is one of my two batting heroes, one hero Richards played attacking cricket and the other opened the innings against the best fast bowling attack ever and delivered consistently which requires a special talent.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is it very different just to be an opening batsman and score 10,000 runs and a middle order batsman and score 12,000 runs, obviously one is not easier than the other, but is there a big difference?
Sunil Gavaskar: Possibly because the new ball is a little bit harder it moves a little bit more, so you take a little more time to settle down and to wear the bowler out so maybe that’s the thing. But, then again, if you are a Virendra Sehwag, it doesn’t make any difference to him as the ball in fact goes quicker to the boundary off his bat.
Rajdeep Sardesai: How would you like to be remembered in this game of Indian cricket, I have always believed that there are three ornaments India has produced in the last 30 years, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar ? Sachin are you looking at your legacy to the game now?
Sachin Tendulkar: I am not thinking that far ahead but now that you have asked this question to me I might as well answer this, I would like to be remembered as the one who always played for the team and the one who has had some impact on the next generation and set some targets for them to achieve.
Rajdeep Sardesai: I find every young batsman wants to bat like Sachin Tendulkar, just as 20 years ago every batsman wanted to bat like Sunil Gavaskar, is this just a passing of the baton from one era to another? The Gavaskar era to a Tendulkar era and hopefully there will be someone else to take on the mantle?
Sunil Gavaskar: That has always been the case in the game, in any sport you will find it moves from one person to another, the generation changes and that’s’ always for the best because the next generation always invariably eclipses the previous generation and that’s a sign of progress, so there is nothing wrong with it at all
Rajdeep Sardesai: What's the one piece of advice you would like to give Sachin Tendulkar today if there is anything at all Mr Gavaskar. I am sure you gave him advice when he was 16 or 15 years old when you first saw him and today when he has scored 12,000 runs, do you want to set more targets for him?
Sunil Gavaskar: I think I did that four-years ago so I am not going to do that but what I will do is, not advise him, but I will make a plea - please regain the World Cup for us in 2011.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are putting pressure on him.
Sunil Gavaskar: No, please regain the World Cup. I mean if this is pressure, just imagine the pressure he is under otherwise.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you believe that he is still fit enough, completely? You are one of those who believe that in fact batsmen get better with age, right?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So he can certainly play 2011 World Cup?
Sunil Gavaskar: It is only a couple of years away.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin, is that the next goal then?
Sachin Tendulkar: It has always been a dream because that is the ultimate thing you can get for your country.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is that the one thing perhaps that’s perhaps missing from this fantastic career?
Sachin Tendulkar: We came so close to it in 2003. It is definitely by far the best World Cup that I have played, and we came so close to it but I thought just in the finals, we tried a little too hard to get the Cup back home.
Rajdeep Sardesai: By the way, there is another thing that binds you besides being national icons. You are both, if I may say, short men with powerful forearms. Is there something between being short and being a great batsman.. from the Don to Sachin?
Sunil Gavaskar: Well, yes.. sure. I think it has something to do with force of gravity. Shorter people perhaps find it easier to be more balanced and move back and forward in the crease.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sachin.. the 10,000 club has lots of short people.. Lara, Border, Ponting.. except Dravid.. is there some connection?
Sachin Tendulkar: Its a tough question to answer. But there is something about good things coming in small packages I guess!
Rajdeep Sardesai: At the end of the day, being part of the 10,000 club, in Sachin's case the first to be part of 12,000 club, it must make you feel that the last 20 years have been worth it?
Sachin Tendulkar: Its been a fantastic journey and I have enjoyed every moment of it. Its been everything I dreamt of, a real dream, and I am still living it.
Rajdeep Sardesai: One final question - there will be youngsters who would be want to be part of this 10,000 club - this elite club - what is it that they need to do Mr. Gavaskar to be part of it?
Sunil Gavaskar: You have got to have focus. You have got to have determination. You have got to have discipline - the 3 ‘Ds’ that I keep talking about, discipline, dedication and determination have to be there. Without that you will never get anywhere close and I think Sachin embodies all those qualities that are required not for a 10,000 man but hopefully for a 14,000 man.
Sachin Tendulkar: Couldn’t agree with him more because we actually followed his footsteps...
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Gavaskar, Sachin, you have made millions of Indians very proud, it’s been a privilege talking to you..
Sunil Gavaskar: Pleasure!
Sachin Tendulkar: Thank you..