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    Dec 2009

    Default Sachin Tendulkar interview: 'I favour England to win the Ashes'

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    On a rainy afternoon in London, with wintry gloom creeping across the city, it does not take long for Sachin Tendulkar to light up a drab hotel room. Tendulkar is shy and quietly-spoken but he soon turns a routine encounter into an illuminating experience. His balance and patience at the crease are again evident as he offers insight into the attributes which make him not only the world's best batsman but, after an epic year, arguably the greatest in cricket history.

    Tendulkar steps away from these sweeping generalisations and deals, instead, in the specifics of his voracious mentality at 37. Amid widespread belief that he is the only batsman who could transcend Don Bradman in any dreamy comparison of cricket across the centuries, Tendulkar makes a remarkable statement: "I'm really focusing now on how I can get to the next level as a batsman. How can I get even more competitive? How can I get even more consistent? How can I get better?"

    He could be an earnest young cricketer aspiring to improve himself rather than the little master who, after 21 years of Tests, has completed another monumental achievement. Less than three weeks ago, against Australia in Bangalore, he cracked a ball from Nathan Hauritz through the covers. It would have been an ordinary boundary but for the fact it meant Tendulkar became the first man to score 14,000 Test runs.

    "It was a big moment," Tendulkar says, "but I was most aware of the match situation." He had arrived at the wicket with India 38 for two in answer to Australia's first innings of 478. He and Murali Vijay added 64: "And then it flashed on the big screen that I needed eight runs to reach 14,000. Every run I scored was cheered. But when I needed two I hit a boundary. I was happy but I thought, 'right, now we can get back to focusing on cricket', because everyone had become too worried about those eight runs. It had taken away my focus."

    That same restraint shaped his low-key acknowledgment of the milestone. As bedlam broke out, Tendulkar finally looked skywards and thought of his late father and his Test debut in November 1989 against a Pakistan attack led by Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. He pauses when asked if he felt more emotional than he had done in 2008, when becoming the highest run-scorer in Test cricket. "Yes. Obviously, going past Brian Lara was something special. But I'm even happier now and hopefully it continues."
    ...being a human...



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