"Sachin Tendulkar the batsman made his debut in 89. In just about a year, he got an 80 in New Zealand, he got his first hundred in England and by 91/92, the world was looking at him as a world class player. The age was always a factor, just 17 years old. And the way he was dominating quality attacks. For us in the team, there was no doubt that this guy was in a different league," Manjrekar told Ashwin.
Tendulkar made his debut back in 1989, and over the next two decades went on to become one of the greatest batsmen in cricketing history. He holds the record for most runs and most hundreds in both Test and ODIs.
According to Manjrekar, by the mid-90s Tendulkar was far and above the most consistent batsman in the Indian team. "Unfortunately, by 96/97, the team was really too dependent on Tendulkar. Because, you know, he was damn consistent. And he was India's first batsman who was able to dominate and hit good balls for runs.
Comparing the Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar era, the 54-year-old went on to add, "Until then (Tendulkar's arrival), India was about defensive batting and putting the bad balls away, like Sunil Gavaskar. A couple of sessions of giving respect to the bowler and then, you know, as they tire out, you get a loose ball and you score off it. Sachin would hit a good ball from a quality bowler on the up for four."
Manjrekar did admit that commentators' criticism hurts players, and he too experienced the same as a batsman. "Players are sensitive. I used to be sensitive. When Dilip Vengsarkar criticized me in his column, I slipped a note under his door, trying to counter all his observations. So I don''t hold it against players when they react. When Sachin Tendulkar reacted to a column I had written as well, I kept quiet," Manjrekar recalled.
Manjrekar though believed that players should not take commentators seriously and instead must continue to perform to the best of their ability. "The best way for players to deal with people like us is to look at us as garnish. We are unimportant. They are the players, their performances are all that matter. Nobody is going to be dropped because Manjrekar said so," the commentator went on to add.
--By A Cricket Correspondent