One is the first batsman to cross 10,000 Test runs; the other 12,000. One is from Dadar; the other from Bandra. CNN-IBN's editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai got the two little masters together in probably their first interview together.
Rajdeep Sardesai: I have with me the two legends of the game, the world's 12,000 Test run man, and the first 10,000 man of the game, a staggering 22,000 runs between my two guests today, the one and only Sunil Gavaskar and the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. If I go by the statistics, do you know how many centuries you have scored between the two of you in International cricket? Who has a better mathematical mind? Mr. Gavaskar, you would usually know how many hundreds have been scored?
Sunil Manohar Gavaskar: No, I am not Geoffrey Boycott here.
Sardesai: You have scored more than a 100 hundreds between the two of you, if you include Test cricket and one day internationals, but Sachin, 12,000 runs, has it sunk in? What does it mean to have scored 12,000 test runs?
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar: To be honest, it still hasn't sunk in; I was just focusing on the ball because till I scored the runs whoever met me, the first question was, you have to do it and when are you doing it? So I was literally fed up of answering them. I don't play for records and I just want to play my game and enjoy my cricket rather than chasing records. I know if I go and do that, records will be broken automatically and I don't need to focus on that.
Sardesai: Is that the same way you felt when you scored 10,000 runs? Was it every day somebody telling you, 'Mr. Gavaskar, when are you scoring 10,000 runs?'
Gavaskar: 10,000 was not something that people looked at. It was basically when one got close to that 29th century mark of Sir Donald Bradman, that was the time people... after the 28th century, you got off the aircraft and the aircraft maintenance guys would ask you about it, you had room service breakfast guys -- the guy who delivered it, instead of asking for a complimentary match-ticket, he would say we want your 29th century here... So the pressure used to build up every time you went to the ground, we didn't have Ipods then, so we had to listen to the talis as well as gaalis.
Sardesai: How do you deal with pressure? Do you keep it out, when you are out there; you keep out all the records?
Tendulkar: It's not that easy to switch off from all these things, our sub-conscious mind grasps all these things and somewhere it is stored. Even if you don't want to focus on all these things, the room-service guy will remind you of it, so somewhere its stored and that's the last thing you want, you want to go out there with a blank mind . You just have to go out and bat, watch the ball as closely as possible and bat.
Sardesai: Mr. Gavaskar, you used to say something that I still don't quite believe that you never used to know your score that you did not even know when you were on 99?
Gavaskar: Yes because I was not interested in how many runs I was batting on, I was only interested in how many runs I got after I got out.
Sardesai: So you never had a look at the scoreboard?
Gavaskar: I had a vague idea, for the simple reason, because if you are on 46, and you know you need four runs to get to a 50, you might play a shot to a ball which you normally wouldn't in just trying to get that boundary. If you are on 96 you might play a shot that would get you out, so the thing to do would be to forget how many runs you are on and then only see your score when you got out.
Sardesai: Are you the same, Sachin?
Tendulkar: No, I do look at the scoreboard...
Sardesai: So, in a sense, both of you legends had a very different approach to run making. Did you, Mr Gavaskar, for example, go ten runs at a time?
Gavaskar: I did it in sessions, not in 10s and 20s. Again, you are putting yourself under pressure when you are looking at any target. As I said, it could be that you are on six, and you would say let me go to 10 and my next target will be 20, so you are putting yourself under that pressure. You just play by sessions, so you know that you have to play two hours before lunch, two hours until tea and then one and a half hours, it was five and a half hours. So if you did that, at the normal scoring rate, you knew you might get your 100 somewhere.
Sardesai: Was that your philosophy too Sachin, bat session by session?
Tendulkar: I played a little differently, a lot depended on my rhythm, my bat swing and if I felt everything was going well on that particular day, then I would sometimes choose the bowlers, like these are the bowlers that I am going to go after and I felt that in patches you score plenty of boundaries and then all of a sudden, you get these strike bowlers bowling disciplined lines and you need to just hold yourself back a bit and set different targets. There have been occasions where I have gone into the field with the frame of mind that I am going to bat at least for a session and then look at the next session to attack. Sometimes, in the first session, I tell myself that I am just going to try and hang in there, try and spend as much time as possible. It varies match by match.
Sardesai: What always strikes out that even in the way you are dressed, Sachin is dressed in a brightly colored T-Shirt, and Mr. Gavaskar is in a long sleeved formal shirt, both of you have scored remarkable runs and are run-machines but both of you have done it very differently, is that the way cricket is, different players, can be run-machines but by approaching the game very differently?
Gavaskar: Yes, there are different methods to getting runs, it also depends on the kind of game that you have-- you could be a front foot player, you could be a back foot player, you could be good on the off-side, your grip might be suited to an on-side game. There are different methods of getting runs and in the Indian team itself you have got Sachin, you have got VVS, you have Virendra Sehwag, they all have different methods of dealing with the same kind of a delivery.
Sardesai: The reason I ask this to the two of you is because Sachin, you grew up, in a sense we all grew up, in the 1980s hearing about the legend of Sunil Gavaskar and you were inspired by him and yet your batting was very different...
Tendulkar: I had two heroes while I was growing up and they are still my heroes, Mr. Gavaskar sitting next to me and Vivian Richards and I felt I would want to grow up and play cricket like my heroes, the dream was that every time any particular thing happened in school matches or practice sessions, I would say, Gavaskar never did that, even today that happens.
Sardesai: Is there a West Indian tucked inside Sachin somewhere, he is closer to Vivian Richards in a sense than Sunil Gavaskar when it comes to the art of batsmanship?
Gavaskar: Yes, particularly when he goes down the track on the spinners, his back-lift is so much like Richards', the way he uses his wrists -- when he does that, I say to myself, Oh this is so much like Vivian Richards when he does that, lofts the spinner over the top . There is a lot of Vivian Richards in him except one thing that Vivian used to do was plonk his front foot there and whip everything down the leg side, Sachin is classically correct, he would play mostly on the off side.
Sardesai: There are in a sense two schools of batting, the Gavaskar style which wears down bowlers and one which destroys bowlers like Sachin. Mr Gavaskar, do you want to bat like Sachin Tendulkar sometimes when you see him, especially in One day Cricket?
Gavaskar: Look, this is what happens with the former cricketers, they have unfulfilled aspirations, dreams some times and when the next generation comes and does, there is a great feeling of enjoyment, I enjoy watching Sachin, Sehwag bat, because they do the kind of things that I wanted to do but was not able to do, probably it was a mental block.
Sardesai: You could probably count the number of sixes you have hit in test cricket on the fingers of one hand, right Mr Gavaskar?
Gavaskar: No, I think I have hit a little more than Geoffrey Boycott!
Sardesai: Sachin, is there something that you have learnt from the Gavaskar school of batting? What is it that one quality of Sunil Gavaskar that always struck out to you as a batsman?
Tendulkar: It's everything about him because growing up as a budding cricketer and wanting to play for India, it was the ultimate dream and you had the ultimate player whom we actually had this pleasure of watching from a close distance, the concentration and the determination, the dedication, the confidence to play fast bowling.
Sardesai: Did you ever go to Mr Gavaskar over the years for special things? I believe from time to time he would tell you if something he felt was going wrong in the grip or some small mistakes?
Tendulkar: Right from my Ranji Trophy days, before my Ranji Trophy debut, he presented me his leg guards, so right from those days I would say I have always shared my thoughts with him and he has shared his thoughts with me and it has been tremendous help and what else can you ask for?
Sardesai: Mr Gavaskar, I have to ask you, and be honest, when you first saw Sachin bat, did you think one day this boy will be a part of this elite 10,000 club, will go on to score 12,000 runs?
Gavaskar: I think yes, I have to be absolutely honest and say if he was not going to be beset by any injuries, he was going to have all the batting records in the world. Please ask my wife of what I felt when I first saw him bat. I had heard so much about him. I went and saw him from a corner because I didn't want him to be conscious that I was standing behind the nets so I was hiding in a corner and I watched him bat and I went home and I said to my wife that I had seen something really special, she said you have never said this about any cricketer before. And I can tell you she has followed his cricket career as avidly as any other Indian.
Sardesai: What is that one quality you think you need to become a run machine, whether it's a Gavaskar or a Tendulkar? Is it just technique? What makes a 10,000 club player according to you?
Tendulkar: It's the desire and it's extremely important to dream big and then you chase your dreams and that is extremely important. And then, the passion. Because I grew up loving the sport, and I cannot imagine my life without cricket, and if anyone had given an option to choose, I would choose cricket 100 out of 100 times.
Sardesai: You say you would chase your dreams. Was your dream even in 1987-88, when you started off, to score 10,000 runs? Did you say to yourself there is Sunil Gavaskar, with 34 test hundreds, I want to score more than that?
Tendulkar: There was always this target of 34 hundreds and growing up as a cricketer, my brother always told me that if you want to be something in the history of Indian cricket, this is what you have to chase because this is the ultimate thing and Gavaskar is your role model, so you have to try and follow all those things and it was my target.
Sardesai: One thing about Gavaskar's game which you consciously tried to adapt? Was it the focus or just the ability to be there session after session, wearing down bowlers? Is that something you maybe sub-consciously or consciously learnt from Mr. Gavaskar?
Tendulkar: It is obviously the concentration and the discipline. You have to be disciplined, to have an organized mind and once your mind is organized, it all just follows and when your mind is disorganized, it's tough.
Sardesai: Mr Gavaskar still plays badminton everyday at four o'clock if he is in Mumbai. Are you, like, that kind of a person, Sachin? Do you have a set schedule, once you go out and bat, the same thing that you have done year after year?
Tendulkar: No, not really, I go by my instincts. There are times when just before going to bat, I feel like listening to some music. I have done two different things, opening in one day cricket is different and batting in the middle order in Test cricket is different, in one day cricket I can be still listening to music and as soon as the umpires are out and the fielders are out, I immediately remove my ear-phones and keep them aside and just walk in to bat. But in Test cricket, I don't know at what time I have to walk in, so it's difficult and it requires a different preparation, not only physical preparation but mental preparation.
Sardesai: Sachin always makes batting sound so ridiculously easy. It's easy to say you want to be focused, determined, passionate, but Sachin has translated it on the ground. What's the one that's always struck out for you, Mr Gavaskar, about Sachin through these 20 years? Something you believe makes him stand apart from anyone else you have seen?
Gavaskar: Balance, which is the most important thing -- he has got balance on the field and that is helped to a great extent by balance off the field. Without balance, so many potentially great cricketers have been lost, it's the balance off the field which is so important and to have that balance off the field you need people around you who will make sure that you have your feet on the ground, the family becomes such an important aspect in keeping that balance.
Sardesai: You both are strong family men, is there something about the Maharashtrian middle class mind-set perhaps? Mr Gavaskar grew up in the Dadar area. Sachin, you grew up in MIG colony in Bandra, is there something that kept the feet on the ground, in your case, Sachin, your father, I believe, played a huge role?
Tendulkar: Yes, in cricket I had different role models and in my life I had my father as my role model. I always felt that if I can be half as good a person as my father was, I know that I am on the right track.
Sardesai: Your father, I believe, was a very calm man?
Sardesai: That's what he gave you in your life?
Tendulkar: Very calm and balanced, never lost his temper, never raised his voice. He was absolutely calm and balanced and I always wanted to be like that.
Sardesai: Any similar person like this in your life, Mr Gavaskar ?
Gavaskar: My parents were a big help, my wife, they were the ones who kept me grounded, upbringing is so important and I am not just talking about the upbringing that you get when you say please, thank you, whatever but cricketing upbringing also and in the respect of cricketing upbringing, I would thank the people I played with at Dadar Union, the team mates there, people like VS Patil, PK Kamath, Madhav Mantri, the discipline he had, he was my mama, Vasu Paranjpe, they were the guys who came with the kind of upbringing that got me where I was.
Sardesai: What also stood out for me all these years was that both of you raised your game when you played the best teams of your time -- Mr Gavaskar when you played West Indies, Sachin when you played Australia. Do you raise your game Sachin, for example, when you played a Shane Warne or a Glenn Mcgrath?
Tendulkar: I wish I could do that.
Sardesai: But you did, you destroyed Shane Warne at his peak.
Tendulkar: It doesn't matter who the opposition is, it is about cricket to me and whenever there is a cricket bat in hand I want to give my best, I am not there to fool around, I am not there to make any compromises, I want to go out and give my best, it might be even a practice game but I just want to give my best.
Sardesai: I was hearing Javed Miadaad the other day, trying to compare Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar and Javed was saying it was much more difficult playing in the 70s because you had to play sides with four fast bowlers. Do you ever compare, do you believe its fair to compare a Tendulkar with a Gavaskar
Gavaskar: Not at all, it's unfair because I would like to think what Sir Don Bradman said-- and it holds true-- and he said that a champion in one era would be a champion in another era, so I don't think comparisons are required. Comparisons are good for the fans and the followers of the game and I don't think cricketers ever indulge in comparisons. They might go on a nostalgic trip and say that during our days things were tougher, but I don't think cricketers often compare.
Sardesai: What's more difficult, facing four West Indian Fast Bowlers in the 70s or playing a mix of one day, Twenty20 and test cricket today? I am sure both were equally difficult?
Tendulkar: Cricket is a difficult game and hats off to Mr Gavaskar how he managed to play four genuine quick bowlers without a helmet.
Gavaskar: And nothing inside to protect (points to his brain and laughs).
Sardesai: But Mr Gavaskar, you never got hit on the head or probably just once. But then again, today fielding has improved out of recognition. Sachin, do you also subscribe to the view that if you are a great player in one generation you are a great player always?
Tendulkar: Yes, I agree with that, once you are a great player in a particular generation, then it doesn't matter because that player knows how to adjust to different conditions. In every generation, you play in so many different conditions, on many different pitches and against many different bowlers and all those things require adjustment. In the end, its about adjustment in this game and if you can adjust to the conditions, then you can play in any generation.
Sardesai: Your proudest moment Mr Gavaskar on a cricket field?
Gavaskar: it has to be the 1983 world cup win and nothing can beat that.
Sardesai: And that's because you took those catches in the slips and not because of your batting? So ironically even after scoring 10,000 runs for you the greatest moment was not the runs you scored but the victory?