New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar, former Indian cricketer, was Wednesday’s crowd puller at the Delhi Auto Expo. As a brand ambassador for BMW India, he launched the 6 Series Gran Turismo and took out time to talk about his passion for automobiles, road safety and cricket. Edited excerpts:
In your book, you have mentioned that when you were going through a bad phase in life after the tennis elbow injury, you would go on early morning drives with your friends. Could you explain that?
There were occasions where I felt that I would not like to play again, especially after my tennis elbow surgery. It took me four-and-a-half months to get back into the action. I tried batting that time with my son’s plastic bat. I was not able to play with the plastic bat, where am I going to play with a normal bat facing balls at 90 km per hour. My friends would come with me. Sometime at 3am we would be driving. I have gone to their place and told them that come, I am waiting for you... Driving has always given me a lot of mental peace, satisfaction. Driving and music as a combination have worked really well for me. I loved those drives. On a number of occasions, my driver sits at the back and I go wherever I have to.
There was one video of yours that went viral where you were instructing a motorcyclist to wear helmet...
Road safety is extremely important. They must wear helmets. The tendency of mujhe kucch nahi ho sakta, idhar hi toh jana hai... Even if it is 100 metres, anything can go wrong. People should not take things for granted because it is not just you who would suffer. I have noticed that so many guys have helmets put in their arms and whenever they come across a policeman, they will immediately wear them. People must realise that helmets are for their own safety.
Any thoughts of Indian U-19 team winning the World Cup?
I think it was brilliant. They outlasted everyone. They were way above the rest of the competition. This is a reflection of what BCCI has done in the last 15 years or so. It has changed the infrastructure. It is an organised system. It is well planned and well thought of and the results are showing. Smaller towns of India have also been able to produce cricketers. We have been able to take cricket to the remotest parts of India.
What do you think of Rahul Dravid as a coach?
I think he has done a fabulous job. When somebody of his stature is in the dressing room and players get to share their thoughts and their problems with him, that is always going to help and it will always reflect in the way players have played and how they have shown their character on the field.
For that matter, my friend, Paras Mhambrey, was instrumental.
How has cricket changed from the time when you started playing?
The game has changed completely. Earlier when we played, one-day cricket was followed more. Today, it is T20. Of course for me, Test cricket sits right on top. The rules have changed. Surfaces have changed—not in the last series... the last series was a different surface in South Africa.
Overall, the pitches in Australia, the way they were in the 90s and the way they are now, has changed. And that’s the case all around now. It will continue changing.
Are you happy with the current Indian team?
I think we have done well. I have always believed that we have had good balance and the team has shown. In India, we have played quite a few matches and we did well. We have travelled. In the first two matches (which India lost), I think we were in the game. Normally, you do have crunch moments in any match and if you win those crunch moments, then you end up dominating the remaining part of the match. So, South Africa won those crunch moments in the first two matches.