Calcutta: From manager Richie Richardson to off-spinner Shane Shillingford, the touring West Indies party is overwhelmed to be a part of the Test series which is going to be Sachin Tendulkar’s last. But they have made it clear that their reverence for The Master will not stop them from being competitive on the field.
Former captain Richardson said that though they are privileged to have been invited to play in the marquee series, they are on a “mission” and so the Sachin fans should be prepared for heartbreaks.
“We are absolutely privileged and honoured that we will feature in Sachin’s last Test series. But we won’t be taking things lightly… We have come on a mission and Sachin will have to earn his runs. There may be heartbreaks for the fans, but we are determined to do well in the series,” Richardson said.
Shillingford echoed the team manager as he said: “Certainly, it’s a great privilege to play against the master of cricket. I enjoy watching him play. But our plan is obviously to go out there and win. I’m sure he would like to get some runs, but we have our plans as a team. Our goal here is just to win.”
Richardson, however, showered lavish praise on Sachin. “I had first seen him during the 1992 World Cup… I instantly knew that here was a player who could be compared with our (Brian) Lara. Sachin has achieved a lot during his career…
“In our part of the world, his biggest achievement has been in earning the love and respect of the Caribbean people even though we have the highest regards for Sunil Gavaskar. Sachin has won a place in the hearts of the Caribbean folk with his batting,” Richardson said.
He also revealed that the West Indies team are planning to pay Sachin a tribute after the Wankhede Test. But he chose to keep their plans a secret, terming them a “surprise”.
Coming back to Shillingford, the 30-year-old offie hopes to learn a few tricks of the trade during this tour. “I’ve been here a few years ago… There’s a lot to learn here. No matter how many games I play, I just want to give my best. There’s obviously something that you can pick up everyday. So I hope to learn more everyday,” he said.
Asked if he has done his homework to tackle the Indian batsmen who usually play spin well, Shillingford said: “Once you’re a spinner, you have to study the batsman.A lot of consistency and patience goes into bowling spin successfully.
Shillingford revealed that he idolises Muttiah Muralidharan and he has “inherited” spin bowling from his dad. “Murali is my idol… I’ve met him, but have never discussed cricket. I’ve inherited spin bowling from my family… My dad bowled spin, so does my brother… I am just continuing it.”
The West Indies players practised at Sourav Ganguly’s academy on Tuesday as the JU Salt Lake campus ground, the venue for their practice match against UPCA XI, is still to recover from the after-effects of the rains which drenched the city three days ago.