In this Walk the Talk from 2006, Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta spoke to Sachin Tendulkar, at first light in Mumbai's Shivaji Park, for a freewheeling interview. Excerpts:
This really is a cradle of so much talent, isn’t it? Shivaji Park.
Yeah, I mean, if you see, a lot of ex-cricketers stay around this park and this is the heart of Mumbai cricket. I grew up right here…myself, Vinod Kambli, Praveen Amre, Lalchand Rajput, all India players, played right here.
Yes, and I find it difficult to imagine that on these surfaces, we used to play without helmets. As you know, now, things have changed completely.
And once you are brought up on these, you could handle anything, I suppose. Right, but tell me a bit more about those days. What was it like to train with… you were very young when you were training and you were playing for India short of 17.
When I started playing here, I mean, I was only 11 or 12, and my brother brought me here, he said, ‘Ok, enough of being naughty in our building and all that’… I used to climb trees, and also fell occasionally … but when I came here, my coach kind of said, ‘No, you still need about six-eight months, come later on’. But my brother had seen me earlier, in our apartments when we used to play downstairs with a tennis ball. And he had seen maybe a spark in me or whatever. But he convinced my coach to give me another opportunity. He knew my coach because he grew up right across there...So I got another opportunity, my brother said, ‘He is really tense right now, you have a look at him tomorrow but don’t stand behind the nets, maybe from a distance’.
Your first trial, you didn’t do so well, is it?
I didn’t. My coach had clearly told my brother that he is too young right now and we need to give him another six months.
Did you use a full-size bat or a small bat then?
I used a full-size bat because I had no option. I had to share a bat with my brother that’s how I got used to playing with heavier bats.
We all talk about sibling rivalries, we talk about brothers and sisters competing… in your case, your brother seems to be a parent-like figure in your life, isn’t it?