'A privilege to have played with Sachin'

Anil Kumble

It was Tendulkar of all his team-mates whom Kumble first informed of his decision to quit the international game during the Delhi Test against Australia last November, and few men in Indian cricket have spent as much time with Tendulkar in the dressing room or out in the middle as the ace leggie has.

What strikes Kumble most about Tendulkar is the manner in which he has conducted himself on and off the field, a lesson, the retired former skipper said, for today’s younger lot. “He has scored almost 100 hundreds in international cricket, you can’t even dream of that!” Kumble told Deccan Herald. “He’s still going strong, it’s great to see him out there delivering day in and day out. I hope the younger lot will be able to take a leaf out of him. They do value his opinions but hopefully, they will be able to emulate whatever he does, not necessarily on the cricket field but also off it in terms of the way he conducts himself. It has been an amazing learning experience for all of us. If the younger lot is able to take a cue from him and be the way he is, if half of them can take even half of what he does off the field in terms of the way he conducts himself, then it will solve a lot of problems.”

Reflecting on what his great mate has meant for Indian and world cricket, Kumble goes on, “It’s really amazing. I did say that he had to live up to all the expectations, which is not easy, especially when you come from India. If he scores a hundred, he has to score another hundred. To live that for 20 years, to take the kind of load he has been able to and manage his cricketing life, his personal life and the marketing part is extraordinary.
“He still has the hunger to go out and perform. Even today, he prepares the same way as he used to when he started out. You have to hand it to him – he has battled so many injuries throughout his career and come back stronger and better every time. I marvel at the fact that he has been able to maintain that strength and been able to perform at that level.

“It’s not easy because even after 20 years, the attention is still on Sachin Tendulkar when he is on the field, it has not gone away. He is an icon, I am really privileged that my career coincided with his and I played a majority of my games alongside him. You learn a lot from seeing him at close quarters. I am really glad he will finish as the number one cricketer in the world, which he is already. I can only wish him all the very best.”

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