Sachin Tendulkar at an exhibition game before the Covid-19 lockdown | Photo: ANI
Sachin Tendulkar at an exhibition game before the Covid-19 lockdown | ANI
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Kolkata: India’s big fight against Covid-19 continues and, in keeping with the national mood, cricket icon Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has decided against celebrating his 47th birthday Friday.

“I don’t know if my children (Sara, Arjun) will insist on me cutting a cake, but the atmosphere at home won’t be festive. This is an unusual time in our lives, where there’s worry. There’s fear too,” Tendulkar told ThePrint over the telephone.

Tendulkar, a Bharat Ratna recipient, elaborated: “We cannot physically see the pandemic approaching us, it just hits us. Naturally, negligence on our part will have consequences and this definitely isn’t the time to believe ‘mujhe kuchh nahin hoga’ or ‘mujhe kuch nahin ho sakta’ (nothing will or can happen to me)…

“Rather, it’s time to acknowledge we take many things for granted. It is time to value what we have while, at the same time, not taking anything for granted… Not even the freedom to go here or there…

“Personally, I haven’t met an outsider after 15 March, so you can count the days I’ve followed social distancing. In any case, the lockdown has meant you cannot venture out…

“Right through my India career (1989-2013), people prayed that I didn’t get out. It’s my turn to say the same prayer, in a different context.”

Also read: Covid-19 forces BCCI and cricketers to brace for loss of income, pay cuts

Fear ensures you take precautions

Asked if there is a way of overcoming fear, Tendulkar responded: “If you maintain social distancing and are hygienic, fear will also follow social distancing. Fear actually ensures you take precautions, which is why bringing about awareness has been the theme of the messages put out by celebrities in partnership with governments.

“I must add I have the utmost respect for the warriors — doctors, nurses, ward boys and police personnel. Some of the sights on TV (medical staff being attacked) made for such disappointing viewing. That’s not on,” Tendulkar emphasised.

According to Tendulkar, the most celebrated batsman after the late Sir Don Bradman, it is time to appreciate the simple things in life.

“It used to be normal to drive over to a friend’s place for coffee or for dinner. Well, you can’t do that now. In the evenings, my children used to hop over to a friend’s place or friends came home. Today, that’s out of the equation…

“That being so, one has to revive hobbies, watch movies and/or serials and work via the phone. I was very keen to watch Ford vs Ferrari and I did see that movie the other evening,” Tendulkar said.

His new routine

Asked what his routine is like in the time of Covid-19, Tendulkar replied: “I train at my gym at home in the mornings, then spend quite a bit of time on the phone with my business partners. I’m able to give more time to my children, and both my mother and wife are delighted I’m exclusively at home…

“In a first, I recently got the opportunity to engage with thousands in the medical fraternity, although on video link only. It was a different experience. Among other things, our interaction was on giving something back to society,” Tendulkar informed.

Revered in most parts of the globe, Tendulkar has donated to funds set up by the Centre and the Maharashtra government. He did not, however, wish to dwell on the contributions made by him.

“Look, all of us have a responsibility and we should do what we feel is right. It’s not about sportspersons possibly having a bigger responsibility…

“On the subject of responsibility, it is important to be mindful of what one says. This isn’t the time to be irresponsible,” Tendulkar maintained.

Tendulkar is convinced that everybody needs to find a way to remain fresh in the mind: “The lockdown isn’t merely for sportspersons, but the common man as well. It’s a challenge for all, not one section of society.”

Also read: BCCI clears dues of centrally-contracted players, says won’t let anyone suffer

Sport without spectators gets a thumbs-down

Sports administrators keep talking of hosting high-profile events without spectators. Tendulkar’s vote, at least, will not go to such proposals.

“Spectators are an integral part of sport and sportspersons feed off their energy. In cricket, it’s after hitting a four or a six or taking a wicket. There’s participation from the stands…

“I doubt if many can motivate themselves when there’s not a soul in the stadium who has come through the turnstiles…

“Can you imagine a Wimbledon final featuring Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with no spectators on Centre Court? You can’t. It will be difficult to host competitions with nobody in the stands…

“All that, however, comes later as the green light must first come from the health authorities. The fundamental issue isn’t about spectators, but clearance by the government(s),” Tendulkar noted.

Will the world be the same again?

“I’m sure everybody will get slowly back on their feet, but the lessons taught by this pandemic cannot be forgotten. Social distancing will be the norm and people’s approach to personal hygiene has to change forever. There’s no choice…

“You may recall the work I did with UNICEF on regularly washing hands. That was some years ago, but it’s an even more critical issue at this time. As I’ve been saying, don’t take things for granted…

“Together, then, we will be able to overcome,” Tendulkar, the holder of multiple records in Tests and ODIs, said with a hint of emotion.

Also read: Indian women’s hockey team kickstart fitness challenge to raise funds for migrant families


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