Gayle tells Sachin "don't edge to me"
Before leaving for the umcoming Test Series in India, West Indies batting star Chris Gayle shared some thoughts on Sachin Tendular, who is set to play his 200th and final Test match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Sachin Tendulkar and I have always shared fun moments whenever we've met. The routine's generally the same. I'll share a few jokes with him, pull his leg. And he just ends up laughing a lot.
Growing up I was more a Lara fan. But how can you not admire the Master Blaster? His stats speak for themselves. So does his personality. He's loved around the world. It's an honour to have met him and played against him. He's such a superb person and easy to talk to despite who he is.
I'm glad that I've got an opportunity to be there at the finish of his career. I certainly wasn't there at the start and hopefully I'll get a chance to have a drink with him at the end of the day and thank him for everything he's done for cricket.
Before his last Test in Mumbai, though, I will exchange a few stern words with him. “Don't edge to me or I'll gobble you up at slip and that will make me the last person to take Sachin Tendulkar's catch in international cricket.”
I might also remind him that I've gotten him out once. In a one-day game right here in India (lbw for 31 in Nagpur in 2007). So Sachin's already in my pocket. Everybody wants to claim that he's got the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. These days, some bowlers might say getting Chris Gayle out is a big thing. But trust me, that was a special occasion.
Having said that, I have been in the outfield and watched him score hundreds and double-hundreds many times. He's also gone on to score 100 hundreds. He's simply the master.
From a batting aspect, the only word you can use for him is 'legend'. He makes batting look so easy. He's strong all around the wicket. It's difficult to bowl at him. He got a shot for every ball you bowl to him. If there's one thing I would want to take from Sachin it'll be the calmness with which he goes about his batting. And how he can manipulate bowlers and dictate the game however he wants to.
Just like Brian Lara, whom I played a lot alongside, could do too. They always seemed to know which bowler they're going to step it up against and score the most runs off and against whom they should back off. They are also great because they can make the bowler come to them and bowl where they want it rather than the bowler trying to go at them.
I have a bit of it too to be honest. But Sachin and Brian are in a different class to everyone else. Phenomenal guys and I just wish I could learn to be as calm as Sachin when he shuts out everything and goes about his business.
Definitely there have been changes in his approach to batting over the years. That's natural. But he hasn't let it affect him overall. He still looks young, like he can go on forever.
His stance and technique have remained the same, so too the temperament. His fitness is the key. He's still maintained it in such a fashion that he manages to play against the young fast bowlers of this era the way he handled the likes of Hadlee, Ambrose, Walsh and Akram.
Your reflexes and reactions might get a little slower, but Sachin's greatest strength is his preparation. Who better than Sachin to know how to cope with changes, and that's one of the main reasons for his longevity.
There's no doubt about the kind of pressure on Sachin every time he's walked out to bat. A billion people wanting him to succeed and him having to deal with the burden of not letting them down. Doesn't matter who the individual is, I'm sure there were times he too buckled under the pressure.
But he's managed to achieve so much and is now all set for a massive milestone. He will really want to walk away with something special. He might shed a few tears as well. It's only natural. But it's Sachin we're talking about and if anyone does I'm sure he'll know how to handle it.