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‘Once Sachin goes, you may need an entire team to fit into his shoes’

- A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE

- RAVI SHASTRI ON SACHIN TENDULKAR’S 23rd ‘BIRTHDAY’

Ravi Shastri

Calcutta: Former India captain and cricket manager Ravi Shastri spoke to The Telegraph, exclusively on Sachin Tendulkar, on Wednesday evening.

Few in the fraternity know Sachin better than Shastri.

The following are excerpts

Q You were in the XI when Sachin made his India debut, in the Karachi Test. What were your thoughts then?

A That he’s someone different, he’s someone special... That he’d come from above to do a job... To perform as a cricketer and to entertain. And to do nothing else in life.

Back then, just how far did you expect Sachin to go?

You can’t put a number, but I knew there and then that he was destined to do something so special which would be beyond mere mortals. Clearly, something beyond our imagination. He continues to be very special.

Is there anything about Sachin that you straightaway remember from that 1989-90 tour of Pakistan? I recall he used to be so shy...

He was a student, willing to learn... I’d say he was like a sponge, soaking up everything. He is still the biggest sponge in the game. He’s still a learner.

So, what has been Sachin’s USP?

Longevity, passion, consistency. That, I suppose, says it all.

How much longer should Sachin continue?

Twentythree is a great number, a number which sat on one of the world’s original superstars — Michael Jordan. But in a career always lined with greatness, how about a silver jubilee? That would be nice.

Should Sachin quit ODIs and focus entirely on Test cricket for, say, the next two years?

Look, it will have to happen in course of time, but at the moment, I guess he’s taking it one month at a time.

What’s your message to Sachin today?

Enjoy every bit, for you’re the only brat — and I say so with envy — who knows what it is to play for 23 years... To be at the top for that length of time.

[No other cricketer has had an uninterrupted run of 23 years at the international level.]

The final one... When Sachin does quit, what will his legacy be? Surely it won’t be about records alone...

Once he goes, we’ll realise his shoe size and it will be 20! You may need an entire team to fit into his shoes. Need I say more?