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Tendulkar in no mood to retire

July 11, 2004 21:41 IST

Assuring his fans of many more seasons of exhilarating cricket and rivals of more heartache, Sachin Tendulkar says he is still has a "long way to go" before he hangs his boots.

Having made his debut at 16, the Indian batting genius finds himself as the senior-most player in the game at 31 but brushes aside suggestions of a swansong, as yet.

"I'm only 31, and there have been players in the past who have started their careers at that age, or even later. Hopefully there's still a long way to go," Tendulkar said in an interview to Sunday Times.

Thoughts of retirement do not unduly perturb him either.

"I don't worry about when it will all end, because nothing stays the same in this world. My cricket will have to stop some day. It will be a tough decision, because it's hard to imagine life without cricket. Half my life has been spent playing for India."

And he has a lot of things still to accomplish for his country like ensuring that India start winning more coosistently in order to be the "undisputed number two" in the world behind Australia.

"We still have to go to South Africa and do well," he said.

"When we start to win series abroad on a regular basis, then I can say that we are definitely No 2. But right now, there are three or four teams pretty close together - England, New Zealand, South Africa and India. If anyone wants to be the
undisputed No 2, they'll have to start winning wherever they go."

Tendulkar described India's historic series win on Pakistan soil in March-April as "massive".

"It happeîed after almost 15 years, and because of that,  it was about far more than just cricket. We were treated  wonderfully by the Pakistani people. There had been security
concerns earlier, but once we got there, the hospitality we received was remarkable. I don't think we'll ever forget that. The people made it a memorable tour for us."

However, on the field, "the rivalry goes back many years, and that makes it exciting. You know that the supporters will celebrate a little more than usual when you win."

Asked about his first visit to Pakistan as a 16-year-old boy, Tendulkar said, "to be honest, I remember little of my first tour of Pakistan. I was just so excited to be part of the Indian team. I just wanted to go out and play as much as possible. Nothing tired me out. And being a food lover, I really enjoyed the cuisine.

"I remember a fair bit of hostility on the field. You expect that, because Test cricket is hard cricket and you're expected to be tough in the middle.

"This time, though, as the senior team member I had a different role to play.  I kept telling the boys how exciting it was going to be, and how the memories would stay with them forever. And it turned out that way.

"The one-day matches were very closely contested, and lifting both the one-day international and Test trophies was a thrilling experience. We were desperate to make the fans proud."

On the current India team, Tendulkar said "I always felt that we had talented batsmen. I was very confident about my teammates, and knew it was only a matter of time before they would leave their own imprints on the game."

About his assessment of Rahul Dravid's progress into a top batsman, Tendulkar said "He has done very well. He's worked hard for it. His mental toughness is phenomenal, he's a
very talented and big-hearted person who loves a challenge. His success doesn't surprise me."

Asked what would be his advice to a young player, he said: "I'd just tell him not to find shortcuts. He's got where he is because of talent, hard work, discipline, dedication and
all the other qualities you need. Don't change. You just need to be yourself, and try to learn more about the game.

"The more hours you spend in the middle, the more you discover new things about your game, no matter how experienced you might be. Just be sincere and honest, and don't forget what got you there in the first place. This was actually my father's advice to me, and I'd like to pass it on to those who care to listen."

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