New Delhi: After a slow start, India Legends skipper Sachin Tendulkar has hit fifth gear going into the business end of the ongoing Road Safety World Series in Raipur. While he hit a 37-ball 60 in the last group-stage game against South Africa Legends, he smashed a 42-ball 65 in the semi-final against West Indies. But the maestro says it has not been easy returning to the crease as the body refuses to listen to the heart at times.
Speaking to ANI, Tendulkar threw light on the highly-competitive action in the tournament, the message he wants to pass to the citizens when it comes to maintaining road safety and his take on the ever-present debate on whether experienced or youngsters should be backed to play for the country.
Videos have surfaced of Tendulkar undergoing sessions with the team physios as he plies his trade for India Legends in the Road Safety World Series and the Master Blaster makes no bones about the fact that the body is not getting any younger. But he does wish to thank the physios for preparing him for matches.
“Body, it has not been easy. Even before, I got here to participate in the tournament, while preparing, I hurt my back and that kept me out for about 10 days before I could get back to it very slowly. We have two physios Vaibhav Daga and Saif. Both have really helped because I have had problems, the back problems and knee. The forearms also went into spasm, needed needles to relax them. Those kind of things are continuing to happen, that are part and parcel. Number of players are having niggles and injuries here and there, but they are happy to be here for a good cause,” he smiled.
Road safety is a cause very close to Tendulkar’s heart and the legend says that the reaction from the people has been nothing short of excellent and he wishes for people to show more patience while on the road and try and avoid taking rash calls whether while riding a bike or driving a car.
“We are here for a cause and people are taking notice of what we are looking to do. The reaction has been very good, the crowds have responded brilliantly. I have always said this that when people react this way then it’s the best tonic for any athlete. The appreciation transpires into making something special on the field.
“It has actually happened because a number of legends go out there and play some spectacular cricket. People are enjoying, and it gives all of us an opportunity to relive those moments. Earlier, when we played actively, it just allowed us to do that. Here, I would want to thank the six teams for taking the time out to spread this message, this is important,” he pointed.
Elaborating further on the need to be safe on the road, Tendulkar said: “Every four minutes we are losing lives in India. While people are riding two-wheelers, 50 per cent of the accidents are happening in the age group of 18-35 because of not wearing helmets. You know number of lives are lost because we are not doing the basic things. Pillions riders don’t wear helmets. The drivers and passengers choose not to wear seat belts when driving a car.
“Life is precious, one cannot because of carelessness, put life in danger or someone else’s life in danger. That’s why I feel patience is required. When we were small, we would have piggybanks where we would collect our pocket money and save. Similarly, if we show little bit of patience every day and allow elderly people to cross roads, honk less and do these little things, that is a piggybank of blessings. Every time you are helping visually impaired or elders to cross the road, you are earning blessings and all you have to do is stop for five seconds. These small things can really change our mindset, it is really important that we decide to every day fill our piggybank with blessings.”
Any talk with Tendulkar is incomplete without discussing Indian cricket and with the T20 World Cup coming up later in the year, debates have once again started on whether youngsters should be given a go with an eye on the showpiece event. The maestro feels that selectors must pick the best XI irrespective of age.
“One thing I would like to clarify here is that it is not just about picking youngsters. It is about picking capable players, you are talking about the Indian cricket team, age should not be criteria. It is about what you are able to deliver and that is what matters, not age. If somebody is able to perform and may not be a young cricketer, but if you are able to perform you should be playing for India.
“Talking about youngsters, if you are able to perform then he rightfully deserves it. But if he is not able to perform, then maybe there are options you can look at. It is just not about age, it is a misconception that you should promote youngsters. I feel we should be picking our best 11. We should be picking our best 14-15 member squad and the best balance is known to the selection committee and it should be left to them,” he pointed.
Two guys who have managed to impress in the ongoing T20I series against England are Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. Tendulkar believes playing top-quality bowlers in the Indian Premier League has readied the youngsters for the tough challenges on the international stage.
“As far as Suryakumar and Ishan are concerned, they both have done really well, they have not looked out of place at all and there is a reason for that. They played against all these guys a number of times. Yesterday, one of the commentators said that Surya has played against Archer and Stokes like as good as playing against Rajasthan Royals.
“For us, when I went to Pakistan and Australia, I was playing all those bowlers for the first time and that was at international level, so here the beauty is that they have played against top bowlers in the IPL and then playing against them for India, it is a big difference, you know what to expect from them and that is what has happened. That is the beauty of our structure and we can noticeably see that our bench strength is really good,” he explained.