N. Srinivasan is arguably the most powerful man in world cricket at the moment. As BCCI boss, he has trashed all calls for Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement and argued that Indian cricket needs Sachin for the tour of South Africa in December-January for a Test series. In a candid chat with Boria Majumdar, Srinivasan speaks of why India still needs Sachin, his memories of Sachin’s career and the cricketing legacy of the Master Blaster.
Sachin is turning 40 on April 24, and of late, there have been calls for his retirement. You have vehemently opposed such calls and said India needs Sachin in South Africa. Could you please elaborate?
Look, it is very easy for critics to criticise from their armchairs. None of them knows what Sachin is feeling or how his body is reacting at the moment. There is no doubt he is trying his level best. His 81 against Australia in the first Test at Chennai was sublime. He was looking good in both innings at Mohali and in the first innings at Delhi. I have absolutely no doubt Indian cricket needs him—and will leave the final call (on when he should quit) to him. Once he goes, there will be a huge void, which we can’t even come to terms with at this point. It is a habit to see Sachin walk out at number four for India and it gives us all a sense of comfort. His presence in the dressing room, the way he inspires youngsters—these are aspects that we must take into consideration. He is one who will not hold on to his place if he believes that he doesn’t have much to offer to the country. When he retired from ODI cricket, he called me and said he did not feel he could play the 2015 World Cup and it was time to move on. If he feels he has cricket left in him, we should respect that and leave him alone.
You are a successful entrepreneur in your own right and India Cements is a well-established brand. How do you regard Sachin as a brand ambassador for Indian cricket worldwide?
Without question, he is Indian cricket’s biggest ever brand. He has been around for 24 years and has been consistent right through. Consistency, I’d say, is the hallmark of the Sachin brand. He is a very modest individual who has achieved the most impossible of feats. I am not equipped to comment on his technique; his records are for all to see. But as a role model and an Indian cricketing icon, Sachin has no parallel. He gets the same standing ovation in every cricket-playing country and is one player who the crowds love to watch. I am actually glad that Sachin plays for India!
What will Sachin’s legacy be?
I know he will not be around for too long. He can’t continue to play on and on. And the very thought that I won’t be able to see him bat for many more years makes me sad. Yes, I can watch recordings, but the sight of Sachin walking out gives us all a high. At the same time, he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players to have played the game. All of us Indians have loved to see him play and dominate bowlers the world over. He revolutionised one-day batting when he started to open the batting for India. And his real legacy will be the passion he brought to the game. I remember this incident from a couple of years earlier when we were playing Sri Lanka, I think. It was a close match and Sachin was flinging himself to save a boundary. If he can do that at 38 years of age, it is a lesson for every aspiring cricketer the world over. I will forever remember him for the passion that he brought to the game.