Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar, one of the greatest batsmen the game has ever seen, said on Friday that it was important to have heroes in life and he himself wanted to be a combination of his childhood idols Vivian Richards and Sunil Gavaskar.
"Every person likes his own identity and that is important. It is good to have heroes. When I was growing up, I had a couple of heroes. I wanted to be a combination, a mixture of Vivian Richards and Sunil Gavaskar," said Tendulkar during an interaction with his fans at gaming and experience centre 'Smaaash' in Mumbai on Friday.
"So, it is important for this generation to have heroes and try and get closer to anywhere you can to your heroes. Heroes will always be heroes, so that is how it should be."
The senior cricketer, who celebrated his 40th birthday a couple of days ago, also cut a cake to mark the occasion and said, "This was the 40th cake that I have cut, so we should stop now."
As a batsman, he has had problems with the sightscreen and the scorer of 100 international hundreds admitted this.
"You know I keep complaining about sightscreens. That is what I go through. When I am batting there are more than 50,000 people around and you can't spot the ball because of the release point sometimes as the sightscreens are not high enough.
"But there is not much choice. It makes you focus harder. You get a fraction of a second less to react and those are the things that you can't change much. You just have to adjust and try and find ways to prepare yourself early when the bowler is delivering," the Master Blaster said.
"Because you get a fraction second less the adjustment to make up for that loss time is in your hands, to get ready a fraction earlier to that spot. That is what I try to do on various occasions when I find it difficult to spot the ball."
Asked whether he and Mumbai Indians teammate and skipper Ricky Ponting, a former Australia captain, are sharing tips during the ongoing Indian Premier League, Tendulkar replied in the affirmative.
"Yes we do. We play for the same team. We want to achieve the same goal. When you become part of the same team, you do share whatever your thoughts are and that is how any team should be," he said.
Tendulkar said he has been sharing his knowledge about domestic cricketers with Ponting.
"Here I have been sharing little more in detail, because I know little bit about our cricketers, which Ricky hasn't had the opportunity to watch them much. Also a lot of things are planned in team meetings.
"But there are things that spontaneously come to your mind and you share your thoughts. So it is basically about sharing our knowledge and giving some background about the bowler."
Tendulkar said having a strong passion for the game and willingness to put in hard work to improve skills should be the top priorities for budding cricketers.
"First and foremost, to be madly in love with cricket is important. You can't count the number of hours, the number of balls you have practiced, the number of balls that you have bowled. You can't be counting. You cant look at your watch. You have to just practice and practice.
"When I was your age, I practised quite long hours. I would start by 7.30 in the morning and finish by 7.30 in the evening. Eventually my coach had to sort of pack my kit bag and send me off saying 'it is too dark to play cricket and we all want to go home'."
"My passion was such and still alive. Boys like you or even girls now, whoever wants to become a cricketer, should be passionate about the game. Cricket should be in your heart first and then as you mature and grow slowly you will find how to score runs and how to bowl over, how to bowl spells. First cricket has to be in your heart and the rest follows."
Asked why he doesn't bowl as much as he used to in the past he said, "I think there are better bowlers than me. Yes I did bowl earlier, but may be my turn to bowl never came or the other bowlers were performing well. They are doing well.
"Occasionally I prefer bowling but I don't think I was ever a regular bowler. More of a partnership breaker kind of a thing, you know when there was a long partnership I would come on. Bowl a couple of overs, when I did.
"If it worked it worked, if it didn't then no stress because you have got main bowlers to take the pressure and responsibility. In one-day cricket, yes I did bowl but now I have retired from one-day (cricket)," he said.
The veteran player, who retired from one-day format of the game in December, has picked up 154 wickets in ODIs.
Asked whether he would conduct a training class, Tendulkar said he would be willing to share his thoughts with them once he retires from the game. "It is exciting, yes. At some stage I would come and share my thoughts here. As long as I am an active cricketer it is difficult.
"But once I stop playing then there would be various occasions where I would love to share my thoughts with all of you and work with you. If you like them, we can try it out. That is something that will require a lot of commitment, lots of time. At this stage, it is not possible."
On his prized possessions, he said, "I am leaving out my family, because that is beyond anything. Other than that, I like music and I have met various great personalities. The greats from Indian music. They all have gifted me some or the other thing, which means a lot to me.
"(Legendary playback singer) Lata (Mangeshkar) didi has promised something special so it will be reaching me soon. Ashaji (Bhosle) gave me something special of hers which sits in my music room.
"From the Western (music) side, Mark Knopfler of 'Dire Straits' has given me his personal guitar. I have got another guitar from U2, which is signed by the entire band. Those things are important because I am into music. At this moment, I would say these are the things that are dear to me."
Asked how to score 10 runs off the last over (in a T20 game), he said there was no set formula to achieve this.
"I think it important to know who the bowler is and what are his strengths. Then you have got to set yourself up for that. There is no set formula as such. We have also seen matches where it is eight runs and the side hasn't been able to score those runs. Sometimes you need 20 runs and you can go out there and get them.
"Basically you have got to see what the bowler is bowling and what his strengths are, weaknesses are. What are the areas where you can score off that particular bowler. There are many factors like the kind of surface you are playing on, the kind of field setting.
"What you need is awareness on field, you have got to have situational awareness. Once you have that, you respond to the situation according to the bowler and the opposition."
Asked about the secret of his longevity, Tendulkar once again stressed the importance of being passionate about the game which he said has given him everything.
"As I said that you have to be very passionate about it. I can't call it as a profession. Cricket is much more than that. It's been my life, has given me everything in my life, whatever I have (achieved) is because of cricket. So you have to be passionate about it. You have to lead a disciplined life, a focused life."
Tendulkar emphasised on the importance of taking timely breaks from the game. "Yes there are times when you want to stay away from the game a little bit and get your mind fresh, your body fresh. So it is good to have breaks."
"I have just tried doing that and it has worked. So it's a simple method which you follow and don't complicate your life in too many things."
On his classic trademark shot - the straight drive, Tendulkar told the youngsters, "I can't say boost is the secret of my energy (tagline of an energy drink ad featuring him). (For) straight drive, all you need to do is your head position has to be right. To play a straight drive, your balance has to be good.
"If your balance is not good then you are not going to be able to play straight, you either drag it with bottom hand to mid-wicket or you slice it to cover or cover point. But when your body is aligned nicely, you have good balance and good head position, then you can hit bowlers straight."
"For batting or bowling, generally on a cricket field, you have to got have good body balance," he added.
Tendulkar advised to put away negative thoughts from the mind in order to succeed. "Simply turn the page of negative thoughts go on to the other page of the book. You got to have positive energy flowing in your body because negative energy is going to tighten you up.
"If you are thinking of something very positive it happens. It is as simple as that. It is important that once you get on the field to make yourself comfortable. To make yourself believe that this place belongs to you, not the opposition, and then dictate your terms.
"It's all about what you think, its all about how you plan and then you execute. But the most important thing is to believe," he said.
Tendulkar said it was important to be single-minded when playing the game. "I don't think about watching movies (when I bat). You can't think of anything else. Your mind is full of ideas, how to score against a particular bowler. Bowler is constantly asking you a question and you are responding to that question, whatever is delivered."
"For that your focus has to be on the ball and the bowler. So I have no other thoughts on mind. I am just thinking of how many runs I can score and how we can win."
The legendary cricketer said he has just tried being himself when asked how he could remain humble despite the stature he has achieved in the game.
"I have just been myself. People have liked me over the years for what I am, so I don't think after all this I need to change. I don't need to change I am just being myself. It is my family's upbringing. All credit to my parents and my brothers and my sister who shaped my career. That is one thing but shaping me as a person in life that is important."
"The second half of my life - my wife, my children, my wife's family, my in-laws ....they all had contribution in keeping me grounded. It creates a huge difference if you have the right team behind you and I am fortunate to have the right team behind me and the right friends.
"I follow the simple advice which my father gave me ages ago. Everything in life stays temporary with you. The only thing that stays permanently with you is the nature, the way you are. So that stays with you till your last breath.
"Try and be a a nice person first and then if you want to become a cricketer or a lawyer or a doctor or play hockey, whatever, then the rest of the things follow. But if you are a nice person everyone will like you ."
Asked if he trains his son Arjun, who is a member of the Mumbai under-14 team, Tendulkar said he does not interfere in his coaching.
"He has a lot of opinions. He tells me what to do and what not to do. That is the beauty of having children around. I don't train him much. I don't interfere much. He has got coaches around and he listens to them.
"Whatever I have spotted, I occasionally share my thoughts. But he should have freedom to express himself on the field the way he wants to play. If minor adjustments can produce better results then I do guide. But otherwise I don't interfere too much," Tendulkar said.