Sandeep Patil: I Knew Sachin Tendulkar Was Special When He Was 10
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and is being republished to mark Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday)
The year 1983 was special for me, not only for being part of the World Cup winning team, but also because I met the little genius Sachin Tendulkar for the very first time. It was during the shoot of my movie “Kabhi Ajnabi The” at RCF ground Chembur in Mumbai where our film unit required 21 kids for a cricket practice scene. Who would have thought that among those 21 odd kids, there would be this very special kid named Sachin Tendulkar, with a spark in his eye and a bounce in his legs?
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A good reader of the game doesn’t miss a special talent. I immediately asked Deepak Murarkar, who brought those kids for the shoot, who this young boy was. Since we had just returned from the World Cup victory, the kids were looking at me as if I was the World Cup trophy. Deepak told me that this youngster’s name was Sachin Tendulkar and he was already making news. He also requested me to come and watch him in the nets.
The Young Talent
At that time, who would have thought that the same kid will one day be awarded the Bharat Ratna. I am one of the fortunate ones to see the journey of Sachin Tendulkar, which started from Shivaji Park to the conquering of the cricketing world. I also remember presenting him the award for the best player of the Ghosh Memorial Trophy. Thereafter, things moved very quickly for young Sachin Tendulkar.
I remember visiting Shri Ramakant Achrekar at Shivaji park with Late Shri Hemant Waingenkar, who was the secretary of Sungrace Mafatlal, and requested me to watch two young talents at the nets. I watched Sachin face senior bowlers effortlessly on a not so good batting surface.
I could see intensity, intent, focus, technique, temperament and sheer talent. It was a special day for me as I not only watched Sachin, but also another very stylish left-hander, Vinod Kambli. Hemant and I were so impressed that we immediately forwarded the proposal to Sungrace Mafatlal management to take these two youngsters.
The idea was to give them encouragement as cricket was an expensive game even then. According to me, that was the beginning of the journey of their great career. Sachin being Sachin grabbed his opportunities and started climbing the ladder of success, and started scoring heavily in school tournaments.
Milind Rege, who was the then secretary of Cricket Club of India, advised the club’s president Late Shri Raj Singh Dungarpur to make Sachin a member of CCI. Dungarpur also saw the spark in Sachin’s eye, but being under-aged, a special provision was passed to induct him as a cricket playing member of CCI.
Sachin Used to Slip From the Seat in My Car
I look back and I still remember little Sachin standing at my building gate with his big cricket bat, waiting for me to take him to CCI in my blue Contessa car. He was so tiny that whenever I hit the brakes, he used to slip down from his seat and I used to laugh at him. Once, he told me, ‘One day, I will also have a big car’. I consider myself very fortunate to see Sachin growing from a boy to a man.
He was great company to have from day one when I saw him at Chembur during my film shoot. Even today, respect and love is still growing for him. Every time he scored a hundred in India or abroad, I wished him and he acknowledged every time.
Things Went Sour When Sachin Announced His Retirement
Things went a little sour in our relationship when Sachin announced his retirement. People unfortunately pointed fingers at me, but later on, Sachin took it as part and parcel of the game. After some time, our relations were cordial once again.
I have always maintained such talents are very rare to find on our mother earth, and Sachin must have come from another planet. For me, Sachin will always remain a young kid who enjoyed his cricket immensely. I take a bow and salute this great man.