|Hanif Mohammed with Sachin Tendulkar, after the latter presented him with a plaque on behalf of the Cricket Club of India, at the Arabian Country Club, in Karachi, in January 2006. The plaque was handed over at the behest of Raj Singh Dungarpur, who is no more. The informal function, over an extended lunch, was hosted by Pakistanís most accomplished cricket administrator, Arif Ali Khan Abbasi. (Getty Images)
Calcutta: These are tough times for the Mohammeds (the First Family of Pakistan cricket), particularly Hanif, an iconic batsman from a previous generation and the first Little Master.
Besides coping with chemotherapy, the 78-year-old is “very sad and depressed” at the death of his favourite grandchild, Ayaan, who recently succumbed to cancer at the age of six.
Ayaan’s father is Shoaib.
Despite the stress and strain, Hanif took questions from The Telegraph on Monday, specifically on Sachin Tendulkar, before starting his third cycle of chemotherapy, in hometown Karachi.
The first two cycles were completed in London, where Hanif underwent cancer-related surgery three months ago.
Hanif, by the way, is still the record-holder of the longest Test innings — 337 in 970 minutes, against the West Indies, in Bridgetown (1957-58).
Moreover, till Brian Lara overtook him, Hanif was credited with the highest score in first-class cricket — an awesome 499.
Thoughts on Sachin retiring...
First thought is that Sachin could have played for another two years... I had exactly the same feeling when Rahul Dravid suddenly announced his retirement from Test cricket (in March 2012)... Sachin’s irreplaceable.
The right time to retire...
Look, the player knows best... I feel Sachin could play for another two years, but his own thinking has been different. That is what matters. Perhaps, Sachin’s decision has been influenced by fitness concerns. Maybe, the hunger is still there, but... Usually, cricketers retire when the pressure gets to them and/or their fitness starts getting compromised. The mind and the body tell you when to move on.
Rating Sachin, the batsman...
The best in modern times... The greatest in the last 20-odd years... Overall, Sachin’s in my top-10. May God always bless him for giving us so much entertainment. I salute Sachin.
I saw Sachin in his debut series (1989-90 tour of Pakistan)... He reminded me a lot about myself, but he obviously had better strokes! We’re almost of the same height and while Sachin made his Test debut at the age of 16, mine was at 17... So, some similarity there too... The way he played Imran Khan and Waqar Younis convinced me that I was seeing a legend in the making.
Sachin’s contribution to Indian cricket in particular and the sport in general...
Well, Sachin changed Indian cricket, didn’t he? He’s inspired more than a generation... The Virat Kohlis took to cricket because of him... Ditto for the Rohit Sharmas... Sachin has been such a good ambassador for the game. A wonderful servant as well.
The way he’ll be remembering Sachin...
For me, Sachin will always be in the same bracket as my hero (Sir Garfield), Sobers.
Finally... If he’ll be watching the last two Tests of Sachin on TV...
Of course. I hope Sachin finishes on a high. That would be a perfect farewell, something he definitely deserves. God bless him. Please convey my best wishes to him.