On the 10th anniversary of India’s premature group stage exit during the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, batting legend Sachin Tendulkar opened up on what he described as “one of my worst days in cricket”, reported Mid-day.
The 43-year-old revealed that following the exit, the thought of retirement had crossed his mind, but a 45-minute talk with his idol, West Indies great Viv Richards helped him change his mind, “I was so disheartened. You feel terrible that the game which has shown you the best days of your life was now showing you the worst day of your life. I couldn’t imagine cricket could do this to you. I felt really, really terrible. I felt low and I didn’t leave home for quite sometime,” Tendulkar said.
The sole owner of 100 international centuries spoke about Richards’ pep talk, who made Tendulkar realise that there was plenty of cricket left in him.
“I was away when I got a call from Sir Viv Richards. He spoke to me for around 45 minutes – about the ups and downs in cricket. He stressed that I have plenty of cricket left in me and said, ‘You are not going to retire now.’ He had heard from a friend of ours that I was really depressed to a point that I was literally thinking of retiring. He told me that it’s only a matter of time that I get back so don’t take any decision now,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar spoke about approaching his training sessions with renewed vigour after his chat with Richards, “It makes a huge difference when your batting hero calls you. Sir Viv’s call to me was made at the right time and I got convinced”
“I then said to myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to abandon these thoughts and start practising again as soon as I return to Mumbai. My brother Ajit spoke to me about the 2011 World Cup, telling me that this trophy can be in my hands. That was the motivating factor and I started chasing my World Cup dream. I trained at 5:30 am and practised in the afternoons,” he added.
Tendulkar would go on to hit another purple patch in his career after the 2007 World Cup debacle and went onto be part of India’s World Cup triumph on home soil four years later. In those four years, Tendulkar averaged a staggering 51 in One-day Internationals and 63.87 in Tests.
‘One of my worst days in cricket’
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After the 69-run humbling in Port-of-Spain against Sri Lanka, Tendulkar disclosed that he found it difficult to move on from the loss, “We were in the West Indies for two days after we lost, but I didn’t leave my hotel room after we lost. “I was in no mood to do anything. It was such a massive disappointment that I didn’t feel like doing anything in those two days. It was tough to get that out of your mind and move on to the next tournament,” he said.
While the defeat against the Lankans sealed their fate, it was a shocking loss against minnows Bangladesh that had sent them packing.
“There are such instances when you feel really terrible. The 2007 World Cup was obviously not good for us. The first blow was the loss to Bangladesh and then we lost to Sri Lanka. I never thought we would lose to Bangladesh. We were not over-confident, but you do feel confident about India beating Bangladesh. It was one of those uncertainties of the game,” Tendulkar said, insisting that his team had not taken the Tigers lightly.
The veteran also spoke about some of the other heartbreaks he had endured during his 24-year tenure as India player when things didn’t go according to plan,
“I would call it [March 23, 2007] one of my worst days in cricket,” Tendulkar said. “When you feel you win and end up losing, you are bound to feel terrible. Like the Johannesburg Test [in 1997] when we had to get South Africa out but it rained, the Barbados Test [in 1997, where India failed to chase down 102] when I was captain and the 1996 World Cup semi-final loss to Sri Lanka,” he added.
‘Greg [Chappell] was responsible for the imbalance’
Tendulkar, in his autobiography, Playing it my way, had some harsh words to describe about Australian Greg Chappell’s ill-fated tenure. The batting maestro still sticks by his criticism of the former India coach, “Yes, 100 per cent, absolutely… Greg [Chappell] was responsible for this imbalance and I stick by what I said [about Chappell having a lot to do with the mess Indian cricket found themselves in],” Tendulkar said.
He also pinned a large part of India’s failure in 2007 down to Chappell’s disastrous experiments in the batting order, “The guys who were opening in South Africa which was our previous tour, were batting in the middle order.”
“There were so many changes that were made. If I were to bat at No 4 in the World Cup, why was I opening in South Africa? And he had no answer to that. Anything and everything that was happening was not in the right direction for the team,” Tendulkar added.