Tendulkar feared early end to career due to injury

Retired India batting star Sachin Tendulkar said Sunday he
feared his career was over when he dealt with tennis elbow in 2004
and that battling injuries had been the biggest challenge in a
sparkling 24-year international career.

”I felt my career was over when I had the tennis elbow
injury,” Tendulkar told a packed media conference hall a day after
his last day in international cricket. ”I could not even pick my
son Arjun’s plastic bat when I had the injury. When I went to the
ground for the first time after my surgery (in 2005), young
fielders were not letting my shots go beyond 10-15 yards. I thought
I can’t play anymore.”

Tendulkar, who wore an India team blazer to the post-retirement
press conference and was accompanied by his wife Anjali, said the
secret behind such a long career had been overcoming different
challenges and looking for solutions.

”I had rare injuries and it was not easy to come back. The time
I suffered the injuries were the most difficult time. But the
desire was so strong that I had to look for solutions,” Tendulkar
said.

Apart from the career-threatening tennis elbow, Tendulkar also
suffered injuries to his heel, toe, back and thigh and is reported
to have played through the 2003 World Cup in South Africa with a
finger injury.

Tendulkar, the most prolific batsman in international cricket
history, was given a grand farewell at his home ground at Wankhede
Stadium Saturday by an emotional crowd that turned out for the
second test against the West Indies.

The series was turned into the celebration of a career as
Tendulkar, who had retired from one-day internationals last year,
declared last month that the two home tests against the West Indies
would be his last.

Asked how he’d like to be associated with the game after his
retirement, Tendulkar said he’d need time to decide.

”Cricket is my oxygen and I’ve played cricket for 30 out of 40
years of my life,” he said. ”So that makes it 75 per cent of my
life. I will remain associated with the game though that may not be
in the immediate future.

”I played for 24 years and it’s just been 24 hours since I
retired, give me at least 24 days to decide,” he said with a
smile.

Tendulkar said he was confident he had made the right
decision.

”My body started giving the message: `enough of this physical
load.’ Training was becoming an effort and so I thought it was the
best time to leave the game,” he said.

Remembering a career in which he amassed 15,921 runs with 51
centuries in 200 tests and 18,426 with 49 centuries in 463
one-dayers, Tendulkar picked out two periods, both at World Cups,
as his best and worst.

”The 2011 World Cup was a high point because I had to wait for
22 years to lift it. The biggest disappointment was losing in the
2003 World Cup final – we were playing so well but could not cross
the final hurdle (against Australia),” Tendulkar said.

Apart from scoring the most runs and centuries in both tests and
one-day internationals, Tendulkar is also the first batsman to
score a double-century in one-day internationals and the only one
to hit 100 international centuries.