Sachin Tendulkar: The Young Batsman Late into Serious Cricket

Sachin Tendulkar: The Young Batsman Late into Serious Cricket

Yet Sachin Tendulkar was late into serious cricket. He was 11 when he began attending the nets held by Achrekar, a former New Hind player, now a professional coach with the Kamat Memorial Club at Shivaji Park. It was in 1984 the year Achrekar was invited by Shardashram School to coach its boys. So transparently apparent was Sachin Tendulkar’s talent that he was inducted into the Giles Shield side that very year. The next year, he found himself playing among the juniors and the seniors.

In the Harris Shield quarter-final, he amazed boys five- and six-years older than him by lashing 102 against Don Bosco. Shardashram was to go on to win the Harris’ Shield and retain it the next year as well, bolstered by a veritable torrent of runs from Sachin Tendulkar’s broad blade and some useful wickets from his medium-pacers.

‘My proudest moment came in 1987 when the school won both the Harris and Giles Shields’, says Tendulkar, ‘And my bagging of the Man-of-the-Series trophy in the Sportstar Under-17 tournament in October 1987 is also a moment I cherish very much.’ That was the occasion on which Dungarpur saw him first and induced the CCI to grant him a playing membership. ‘I was able to arrange sponsorship for him to go to England for a month last June,’ says the genial Dungarpur. ‘An Under-19 schoolboys side went to England, with Kailash Gattani (the former Rajasthan seamer) as manager; and Sachin Tendulkar was in it. I would think he would have benefited enormously from the experience.’

Earlier this winter, he was invited to bat at nets when India’s greatest-ever all-rounder, Kapil Dev, was bowling. The handful of bystanders were afraid that the little tousle-headed boy would get hurt since he seemed to be playing way above his league. But Tendulkar negotiated Kapil’s best bowling with comfort and was not fazed when ‘the Haryana Hurricane’ tried a couple of bouncers to unsettle his batting rhythm! When asked for his comments, he sounded a note of caution: ‘Don’t write too much about him now. After all, it’s only the Ranji Trophy. There’s some way to go. So many people have done well in the Ranji Trophy but failed at the highest level.’

For young Sachin, cricket is his very lifeblood. Studies are an occupational hazard, and he readily admits to being among the backbenchers in his class of 74. The morning session of five hours of school passes by as a blur, and then, at 3.30 pm, everything shifts into sharp focus as it is time for the nets at Shivaji Park. For over three hours, until the sun goes down over the horizon, Sachin Tendulkar, under the watchful eye of Achrekar hones his cricketing talents. And, if that is not enough, he does some cricket shadow practice at home to iron out the flaws in his technique. One wonders if even Gavaskar was so assiduous at the same age! Sunil Gavaskar: a model of greatness. He made his Ranji debut at a later age but made 774 runs in his first Test series.

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Sachin Tendulkar Learning Cricket From Coach Ramakant Achrekar in 1983
Sachin Tendulkar learned Cricket From Coach Ramakant Achrekar in 1983