A day after scripting 100 international centuries, Sachin Tendulkar may have been lonely at the top with the next best being Ricky Ponting's 71 but there was no way he could avoid the flurry of visitors on a busy Saturday here at the Pan Pacific Hotel.
Indian High Commission officials, hotel staff scurrying in with cups of tea and the media, were all part of the attendant mass and Tendulkar handled the varying demands on his time without any fuss.
A celebratory cake was cut and it was time to talk about issues that defined his cricket and life. He spoke about the wait, his family, the physical exertion, a few special hundreds and above all that; Tendulkar dedicated the historic century to his reclusive elder brother Ajit.
The brother's touch
“The family tried to make my life as normal as possible and discussed things outside cricket. I talk a lot on cricket with my brother (Ajit). He has guided me throughout and this is something I want to dedicate to him. We have lived our dream together. Whenever I went into bat I knew that mentally he was there.”
Let the children breathe
“With Arjun and Sara, it is important that they lead a normal childhood and are not surrounded by the media. Arjun is madly in love with cricket and all this attention shouldn't be such that he starts hating all this. He should have the freedom to express himself.”
The two waits, first ODI ton after 78 matches and the latest…
“That time I never felt that there was a wait. Obviously the way the media projected it was completely different. This anticipation and disappointment when I didn't get (the 100th hundred) was far too greater than anything else. I wish there was someone to guide me. In Delhi (against the West Indies) I went in to bat in the second innings and it was a critical phase and we won but people were only talking about how I missed my hundred. It is something that a sportsman doesn't want. He just wants to enjoy his game and the success of having done well for the team.”
Those special hundreds…
“Perth (114 against Australia in 1992). Something that means a lot to me is the hundred at Chennai (103 n.o. against England) in 2008. That was important because of what had happened before that (the terrorist attack in Mumbai). The first hundred (119 n.o. at Old Trafford, Manchester). Chennai (136 against Pakistan in 1999) again. And Sydney when I scored 241 (in 2004).”
Comparing the wait with Roger Federer's ahead of the 2009' French Open
“I don't know what Federer had gone through but I am sure it was tough. I would not compare the 100th 100 with the French Open, rather it would be the World Cup. I had to wait for 22 years.”
Life is a laugh
“The funniest incident of my life took place here (in Dhaka during 2004 when he scored an unbeaten 248). While taking a run, I told Anil Kumble, ‘keep an eye on the second run.' And while taking the second one I saw that the throw was good and I stopped but Anil ran, the keeper missed, Anil kept running and then actually, we ran twice in the same direction and three times we were about to get out. We had a good laugh.”
Batting through pain
“The physios and masseurs are an equal part of my success. A specific innings is when I got that double century (against South Africa) at Gwalior. Before that game I was lying on the physio's table and getting various treatments and all we were discussing was that let us win the series and then I am going to request the BCCI for a break because I am exhausted and can't even stand on the field. To deal with injuries is not easy and at my age it becomes difficult. I went to the ground and forgot all about that. When you are focussed, you are willing to reach a destination of winning that match. After the game we discussed and I was asked — do you remember saying ‘please sort out my body'.”
The toughest bowlers
“I can name at least 25. How do you differentiate between Anil Kumble, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath, Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose? How do you pick among Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis? It's tough. I have respect for all of them.”