Sachin Tendulkar is aiming to continue his distinguished cricket career
He turns 39 in April, having added another milestone to his long list
Tendulkar believes he should have got to 100 centuries faster than he did
India's national icon says he will keep playing as long as he enjoys the game
India’s record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar is looking forward to enjoying cricket after finally becoming the first player to reach the milestone of 100 international centuries.
Tendulkar turns 39 next month, but says he has no intention of following teammate Rahul Dravid and ending a top-level career that began as a teen prodigy in 1988.
“The next thing for me is to enjoy cricket. That factor is really, really important,” the man known as the “Little Master” told CNN’s Indian affiliate CNN-IBN.
“If I am enjoying it then the performance will be there, and that’s how I have always played in the past. There are different challenges along the way and you overcome those obstacles and that is also part of the learning process.
“You take a lot of pride in overcoming those obstacles and contributing something which everyone takes notice of, and that is enjoyment for me. That is satisfaction for me to have done something, and I hope it continues.”
Tendulkar has broken every major batting record in the sport, being cricket’s highest run scorer in Tests and one-day internationals and the scorer of the most hundreds at the highest level — now 29 ahead of his closest rival, Australia’s Ricky Ponting.
However, his progression from 99 to 100 centuries took more than a year as he was left stranded for 33 innings before scoring 114 against Bangladesh last week.
“Yes, finally because the wait was quite long. My own expectations, also I thought it should have happened earlier but there are certain things which God has planned for every little thing in life and maybe it was that way,” he said.
“One thing I can be proud of is my efforts. My commitment in that phase where it was really, really tough didn’t fade away – it was very much there and I was 100% there all the time.”
The expectation was even greater given that Tendulkar’s 99th ton came during the 50-over World Cup, which India went on to win in his home city of Mumbai last April.
“I got my 99th hundred a year ago against South Africa and after that we played about four or five World Cup matches and nobody spoke about my 100th hundred at that stage because the entire focus was on the World Cup,” he said.
“Once the World Cup was over, that’s when things shifted to the 100th hundred and there was speculation I didn’t go to West Indies because I wanted to score it at Lord’s (the home of cricket in England).
“I wish I was good enough to do all those things in my life as to when and where you could score a 100.”
Tendulkar is a national hero and one of India’s highest-paid athletes, having scored more than 15,000 in 188 Tests and over 18,000 in 460-plus limited-overs internationals.
“I knew there were patches where I was really batting well. There were patches where I thought yeah, I was okay and there were phases where I thought I could have been better and that’s very normal,” he said of his past year.
“That’s part of every sportsman, not just cricketers, but every sportsman goes through that. From a personal point of view I can say it’s been a fantastic journey, something that hasn’t been overnight or in a decade. It’s taken more than a decade to come my way.”