Dubai: The 350-odd guests could not have possibly asked for more on Saturday evening. The ‘Evening with Sachin Tendulkar’ came to life as the marathon man of cricket regaled the audience with experiences from his 23-year career, shared in the mirth of the audience as a stand-up comedian took the stage, and received Wisden India’s Outstanding Achievement Award at a city hotel.
For those who may have doubted the master batsman’s sense of humour or an ability to laugh at
himself, the evening came as a pleasant surprise. The talk of retirement had been a touchy one in recent times but this evening, it was a different Tendulkar — handling chat show host Alan Wilkins’ bouncers and wrong ‘uns with élan and a smile.
The opening salvo from Wilkins was that after 188 Test matches, 463 One Day Internationals and more than 33,000 international runs, doesn’t he get tired? “I can do better,” said Tendulkar, looking dapper in a trendily cut suit and his new long hairdo.
“I am going to carry on as I long as I can contribute and bring value to the team,” the man with 100 international centuries made his intentions clear once again in no uncertain terms. “The game has always given me tremendous joy and satisfaction and that’s why this journey started in the first place,” said the man of the moment.
The year-long wait for the 100th century, which finally came in the Asia Cup in Dhaka in April, was an agonizing moment for both Tendulkar and his legion of fans — and the evening once again showed that it still rankles him. The hype started with fans expecting him to reach the magic figures in the first Test against England in London around this time last year — it was also the 100th Test between the two countries.
“What people tend to forget was that I had scored the 99th ton in the World Cup, and after that there were still four matches as we went on to win the Cup. Once the euphoria was over, the media and people [with a chuckle] had to shift focus on something new and now it was my 100th century. Initially, I was not too bothered by it but the gradual build-up also started getting onto me,” said a candid Tendulkar.
“There was a heartbreaking moment in Mumbai versus the West Indies…I was really hitting the ball well and it would have been special to reach the landmark in front of my home crowd. Then during the tour of Australia, I batted as well as I did over the last three to four years. In hindsight, I felt luck deserted me a few times,” he recalled.
While fielding a handful of questions from the fans, Tnedulkar offered an interesting insight as to how he has so successfully balanced his professional and personal life over two decades. “I am still learning to balance the two,” he said, drawing peals of laughter from the audience, before adding: “What has certainly helped me is that Anjali [his wife] knew me from almost 1990 and knew what my priorities are. When I am into cricket, I am full-time into it and then but when I am doing my commercial engagements or spending time with family, I don’t think about the game. It’s very important that you can switch on and switch off,” he added.