Will reassess future plans in November: Sachin Tendulkar

After a mind-boggling 23 years at the top, Sachin Tendulkar retains his hunger for the game and his appetite for excellence. But how long can he go on?

For the first time, in an exclusive interview to Times Now, to be telecast on Friday, the legend opened up about his possible retirement, admitting that at 39, there wasn't much cricket left in him.

The call to retire would be a tough one, the maestro said, adding that he would go with what his heart said. "At the moment, my heart says I am okay."

"The moment of retirement is going to be hard because I haven't experienced anything close to what I might go through when I retire," he said. Asked if he would retire from all formats of the game at one go, he said, "It again depends on what my heart tells me then. I need not take a call right now. When I play in November, I will reassess things."

Sachin Tendulkar, in this exclusive interview, says it is going to be difficult to 'suddenly hang my boots one day'.

The country loves you because of your ability to remain focused on your game. It is also true that getting involved by reacting to things being spoken about you could be a distraction. But do you feel that you are pushing yourself too hard to be competitive and stay on top at this stage of your career and life?

I have always been pushing myself, for the last 22 years and more, to play for India. It had always been a dream. When you play for India, you are playing a team sport. The 15-member squad has to move in the direction that the team wants you to move in. Everyone is striving to achieve something unique. Especially because it is a matter of pride and honour to play for India. Therefore, there is no reason why I should not be pushing myself too hard. In fact, if I don't, then you should question me on why I am not pushing myself hard enough. I care about playing cricket for India. This is something I am not willing to make a compromise on. The day I stop playing, I do not want to feel that I did not give it my best shot.


People say that Sachin is pushing himself so hard that the Sachin who we see is not the Sachin that we know. You almost hit the wicket with your bat and raised your hand in anger when you were bowled for the third time in a series against New Zealand...

We are always under pressure. There is no stage where a sportsman is not under pressure. Although, it is good to be under pressure, which will bring out the best in you. Personally, being nervous brings out the best in me and I prefer it that way. Also, there is no batsman who feels happy after getting out. In this context, I was disappointed because I wanted to win the match for India, but I got bowled. But this reaction was blown out of proportion and pin-pointed conveniently. It was a natural reaction. You cannot expect me to take people's permission to react in a certain way.

Sunil Gavaskar said, "Two consecutive innings, the master has been bowled. The gap between the pad and the bat is a worrying sign. This is never a good sign for a great batsman." This comment was made after the second Test in August. It is Sunil Gavaskar who made this comment, and not somebody else.

Sunil Gavaskar has also said positive things about me. When there have been a lot of positive feedback as well, why keep harping only on the negative comments? Ultimately, if I am out, I am out. I can't get stuck on one article about me and try to create something that the person is hoping to create out of it. I need to stay focused on the game and constantly keep finding ways to improve myself.

Azharuddin has also said, "It is clear that his reflexes have slowed down. His feet are not moving well in the crease, and is constantly playing across the line."

When I met Sir Don Bradman in 1998-99 on his 90th birthday, he told me that it is natural for a batsman to change after he is 30. I have played quite well for 9 years after I turned 30. It is natural for any person to slow down as he grows older.


What about retirement?

I am 39 and I don't think I have plenty of cricket left in me. But it depends on my frame of mind and my physical ability to deliver. When I feel that I am not delivering what is needed, and then I will re-look at the scheme of things. I am already 39 and no one expects me to go on playing forever. I will go with what my heart says. There are two different things -- scoring runs and what I feel. For instance, if this three-wicket ordeal had happened when I was 25, no one would have questioned it. Incidentally, it happened when I am 39, so questions were raised. This is natural. But I am still the best judge of what happens to my mind and body. When I feel it is time, I will take a call. It is going to be a tough call nevertheless. It is going to be tough because this is what I have been doing all my life. It is going to be difficult to suddenly hang my boots one day.

ALL_1_Front_PgART2_1063693eHave you been thinking about that moment?

Of course, I have been. I am 39 plus and it is not abnormal for me to think of it. At that moment, I will go by what my heart says. At this moment, my heart says I am okay. But you will have to look at series by series.

Can you be a little more specific about retirement? How many more years?

Nobody decides in this manner. I do not know what is in store. I wish I knew. If I did know, I wouldn't have had to wait for 22 years to lift the World Cup. Perhaps, I would have done it in the first instance in Australia in 91-92 then.

So would you hang your boots in the next 1-2 years?

I am looking at it series by series. As long as I feel that I can deliver, I will continue playing. It also depends on what the team feels and whether I am motivated enough to continue being on top of the game.

Do you consciously stay away from people's opinions about you and not get affected by them?

I have always stayed away from what people say about me, right from my younger days. My brother always told me that I need to keep away from all this to stay focused on the game. Irrespective of criticisms or praises that come your way, it is important to stay focused and keep improving your game.


Is it true that you are trying to take your 190 Test matches record to 200 and therefore, you could possibly retire in South Africa next year?

No. I go series by series, rather than by numbers. I will keep playing till I feel that I can deliver.

What would be the moment of retirement for you?

I don't know. It is going to be hard because I haven't experienced anything close to what I might go through when I retire. I cannot relate this moment with any other moment in my life. It will be a tough call.

When you retire, will you retire from all formats of the game?

It again depends on what my heart tells me then. I need not take a call right now. When I play in November, I will re-assess things.

When you do retire, would you like to retire on a tour abroad?

Let us not contextualise it. It will be a momentary decision.

© Times of India