| Sachin Tendulkar talks to Greg Chappell during practice in Johannesburg on Thursday. (Reuters)
Johannesburg, Dec. 14: Talismanic Sachin Tendulkar will be nearing 38 when the 2011 World Cup is co-hosted by India, but Sunil Gavaskar wants him to continue till then.
The iconic Little Master I said so after the eighth Castrol Awards were given away here last night. In fact, he personally “felicitated” Sachin for his record-rewriting 35th Test century, at the Kotla a year ago.
Gavaskar is the one who got eclipsed.
Little Master II declined to comment on Gavaskar’s wish, but his body language suggested he’d been stumped. “Nothing on that, please.... Please...” he pleaded with the media at the luxurious Intercontinental Sandton Sun & Towers.
Even if Sachin didn’t react to that, he actually came out with much at the function itself.
For example, he accepted it was “difficult” living up to the expectations of others and, so, focused on meeting his “own” expectations.
“Sometimes, I realise I can’t do certain things... That my body is that of a 33-year-old and not 17... One must be brave enough to accept it and use the body cleverly,” he added.
Emotionally saluted by Gavaskar (“his heart beats for cricket... his heart beats for Indian cricket”), Sachin himself turned sentimental while recalling that “Mr Gavaskar” had presented him a pair of pads which he wore and got centuries.
Gavaskar, for his part, revealed that a backfoot shot – “more a flick than a pull” -- during one of the Mumbai team’s nets sessions in 1987-88 is what convinced him that Sachin was a “rare talent”.
He added: “Sachin has been playing for 17 years... It’s tough... There are periods when things haven’t gone his way, but he has coped with them... One who breaks your record is somebody you should admire and I've always admired Sachin... I hope he gets back into the habit of centuries in the about-to-begin Test series.…”
While on centuries, Brian Lara has already reached 34 and Ricky Ponting is one behind him. For Sachin, the heat is well and truly on.
Presented overseas for the first time, two awards (2004-05) each went to Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, while Sachin (for bowling in ODIs!) and Kumble collected one apiece.
Special awards were given to four South Africans --- Allan Donald, Jonty Rhodes, Gary Kirsten and Shaun Pollock --- all big performers versus India. “It’s a wonderful gesture,” a beaming Kirsten told The Telegraph.
Dr Ali Bacher couldn’t make it, but son David collected the “special citation” and award on his behalf. The former captain and one-time supremo of South African cricket is recuperating after a second bypass.