During his brilliant fairytale run in the 2003 World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar, in his own words included the biggest match of his cricket career, but according to former teammate Rahul Dravid, Sachin didn’t even faced a single ball in the nets, defining the iconic cricketer “defied imagination”.
In a special coverage done by ESPNcricinfo on a particular player named “Modern Master”, Dravid said on Tendulkar in his own words.
Sachin Tendulkar recorded 673 runs in that World Cup, which no cricketer ever has scored more than that. The highlight of that tournament was the 98-run knock which seen him taking over the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar with brilliant confidence.
Taking over it, Dravid said that Sachin didn’t faced even a single ball in nets. His practise was limited to throw downs.
“It (his preparation) changes from time to time. In the 2003 World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar didn’t bat a single ball in the nets, right through the tournament. He only got throw-downs. He just received hundreds of throw-downs through the whole tournament,” Dravid said.
Rahul said that when they asked him why he was doing that, Sachin replied that he is feeling good doing this. He said that with this feeling he can score when he gets on.
“All of us were wondering ‘Why is he doing that?’ When I asked him, he said, ‘I’m feeling good. I don’t want to go into the nets and waste the touch. I want to feel good about my batting. If I have that sort of feeling, I will score runs when I go in”.
Dravid, calling the Mumbai Batsman the greatest player he has played ever, said that Tendulkar has changed the landscape of Indian cricket.
“He’s changed the landscape, both on and off the field, for Indian cricket over the last two decades. It’s almost mind-boggling. A whole generation has grown up with Tendulkar. They’ve seen his ups and downs and lived their lives and dreams through his feats. So many people in India want to be a cricketer,” Dravid said.
“For the last twenty four years, there’s been a whole generation of people who have had this privilege and opportunity of claiming to say they were there when Tendulkar was the best batsman in the world.“
The former India captain said that Tendulkar ‘defied imagination’.
“A legend, the greatest player that I’ve played with as a batsman. He’s been a huge inspiration. To see a 16-year old boy do what he did was unbelievable. It “defied imagination” and was a huge inspiration for me. I felt like if he could do it then I should also try to be a Test cricketer,” Dravid said.
Dravid talked on Tendulkar being accused of selfishness also. He said that its not good to say he is selfish. He told that every player desires to score century and Sachin did it many times and everytime been useful for the team.
Dravid said: “I think it’s a little bit unfair. All of us want to score hundreds, all of us want to score runs and the team does benefit when you score runs. When someone’s scored a hundred hundreds, if you start nitpicking and looking at each and every innings, sure you’ll find enough innings to prove your point, but there are also other innings when those hundreds have been critically important to Indian cricket. It’s hard to begrudge someone the desire to score hundreds”.
Dravid also said that Tendulkar could not lead India to victory on a few occasions in Tests because of a weak bowling attack. He rated Sachin in this aspect as a bit unlucky.
“I still think in ODI cricket he has had quite a few match winning, match defining innings. In one day cricket, even if someone scores 300-350, as a pure batsman you can still control the game. In Test cricket, you have to rely on other people; you have to rely on the bowling attacks. Bowling attacks win you Test matches,” he said.
He told that Tendulkar’s best part was during 1998 to 2002/03 and other players along with him failed to help in making India Victorious. Saying Sachin’s tons going in vain, Dravid took an example of Centurion Test, 2011 where Sachin helped India to get into lead over likes of Morkel, Steyn but Indian bowlers failed to restrict opposition and did fail to help to go and try for a win.
“Especially through Sachin’s golden period (1998-2002,2003), and especially away from home when he got a lot of runs, maybe we didn’t have the bowling attack to back him up in those games. I can remember, even as recently as Centurion, his last Test hundred was a brilliant Test hundred against Steyn and Morkel. But we couldn’t get South Africa out in the fourth innings. The context of those hundreds changes completely if you have the bowling attack to get people out. If there’s one thing he’d like to better about his numbers, though, it’ll probably be his fourth innings in overseas Test series.“
Dravid felt Tendulkar’s biggest strength has been his temperament and also appericiated his ability in playing every delivery and also rated Sachin’s technique as the best.
“For me, Sachin’s greatest strength really is his temperament, his ability to handle the pressures that have surrounded him. He’s been the focus of attention since he was a 16-year old kid. And for so many years to be able to handle all of that and still to be able to perform and not get frustrated by it and not get disillusioned by it shows an incredible mind.“
Speaking about Tendulkar’s technique, Dravid said: “One of the things that has always stood out for me for Sachin has been balance. It’s that ability to judge length and to be in that right position for nearly every ball. It’s very rare that I’ve seen Sachin struggle for any particular ball. His judgment of length was marvellous.”