Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar is geared up for the All Stars League, a T20 competition engineered by him and Shane Warne. Tendulkar recently was photographed practicing for the game in Mumbai, and it reminded fans of the good old days when Tendulkar relished batting. The Little Master opened up about the All Stars League and in an interview with the Indian Express, he shared his views. The excerpts of the interview are as follows.
How was it to bat and train properly after a long time?
Good fun. I am pacing myself. It’s not that I can come back after two years and start doing everything at one go. The last 10 days or so I have been practicing a bit and pacing myself, Before that I started training a little bit to get back in better physical shape. After retirement, things were obviously slightly different, I could eat whatever I wanted to, before that I had to think twice but not anymore. For this tournament, I wanted to lose some weight, so I had to check my diet. It’s fine. We are all retired cricketers, we want to enjoy, we want to promote cricket. We want to get competitive as much as we can be, as much as the body allows us to be. So it’s about having fun, getting our fans closer to us, giving them an opportunity to watch live cricket, get more engaged with cricket.
Did you feel emotional when you wore those pads again?
I am wearing the same leg guard I wore in my last innings at Wankhede. As and when I get close to my kit bag I remember all those things. Obviously, these are special leg guards to me, the thigh guards, the whole kit is special to me. It’s a nice feeling.
How is it been interacting again with greats like Shane Warne?
There is a lot of excitement because I am going to get to meet them again. Last year, we met at Lord’s and had an amazing time. It was good fun in the dressing room as well. Post match also, there was a cocktail party in the Long Room at Lord’s where I got to meet a lot of players who were actually not playing that game, but they were much very there to watch us play. Overall, it was a humbling experience when you meet so many players and discuss cricket. I realised then that even though we have retired the passion for cricket is very much alive and that sort of spurred me in this direction and start Cricket All Stars.
There might be a chance that you might open with Sourav Ganguly, how does that feel?
We haven’t selected our teams, but there is a new surprise, Virender Sehwag is also a part of the squad now. It would be nice. Whether it’s Hayden, Ganguly or Sehwag, whoever, they are all top players and we all are looking forward to it and so is Viru and that is what he told me. It’s good for people in America because when they get to know about this, they would be excited. Who doesn’t want to see Sehwag?
Is there anyone among the All Stars players whom you always wanted to bat with?
We have a system for selection which you will know shortly. I have played with Ricky Ponting, and obviously, with Sehwag and Ganguly. With Brian Lara, I have batted in a couple of exhibition games. Matthew Hayden is someone I have not batted with, Michael Vaughan I haven’t, VVS Laxman I have, Sangakkara and Jayawardene I haven’t, and to bat alongside them would also be an experience. They both have been playing literally till last two months and so, both are in terrific shape and hitting the ball very well.
How do you feel playing cricket again two years after retirement?
When you play for India, your preparation is quite different. The format that we are playing of three matches each, we will be playing three matches this time and after three-four months we will again play three matches. When you play for India, you don’t get a break like this, and you have to maintain your fitness at a certain level and you also have to play at a certain level. I believe that all the players who are taking part in the All Stars League are all great players and all of them have played at the highest level for at least 15 years.We are all coming together to promote the game. I feel that the interaction of the players with the crowd will be a bit different. When you play for India, you are not in the mood to crack jokes, you only have to focus on the match. But here you have baseball grounds, so the fine leg, the third man, deep point, deep square leg, all these fielders who are placed deep they will literally be five feet away from the spectators, so some of the players might even get a chance to have a laugh with the spectators.
How has the USA received the idea of All-Stars?
I think the response has been fantastic, really overwhelming and as the time goes by and we get closer to the first game, I am sure it is going to get even more. It is nice to see that all the people living there are taking an interest in cricket and not just the Asians, the Americans have also decided to turn up and that is the feedback I get from my friends. A few of my friends who have settled there in the 90s, they had no idea about baseball or basketball, their American friends took them to stadiums and made them understand what baseball is. So I told him it is time for you to reciprocate and get some Americans inside the stadiums and make them understand cricket and I am sure they would love it.