Despite all the positives emerging from the recently-concluded U-19 World Cup in South Africa, where India entered a record seventh final and Bangladesh earned their maiden title, the post-match fracas between the players has left a bad taste in the mouth. The bad blood between both teams, in fact, was visible throughout the match. When they finally won, Bangladesh players were seen hurling verbal expletives at the India teens, some of whom also responded in an unsavoury manner. They almost came to blows, according to reports.
Sachin Tendulkar, commenting on whether young players need to learn about sportsman spirit especially in light of what happened in the U-19 World Cup final, said it should come from within. "One can only make an effort to teach individuals, but then a lot depends on the character of an individual. In a crunch moment, one should be able to control certain things and not forget that the whole world is looking up to you. They are following certain things. So, I think those are the moments where controlled aggression helps. One needs to be aggressive but being vocal and saying foul things doesn't mean that you are aggressive," Tendulkar said in an interview.
"Aggression should be in your game, the way you bat or bowl—that aggression which helps the team and not goes against it," added Tendulkar, who was here to flag off the IDBI Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon.
Following the fracas, five players—Akash Singh and Ravi Bishnoi (from India) and Bangladesh's Md Towhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain and Rakibul Hasan—were sanctioned by the ICC. India spinner Bishnoi, who took four wickets in the match, was also charged for a separate incident of provoking the opposition batsman. "Everyone is aggressive. If somebody doesn't say anything or if somebody doesn't do anything it doesn't mean that he is not aggressive. We all want to go out and win. There is a method to do that. You can't cross the line. Like me the rest of the guys also want to win and those are the things one should keep in mind. Are you trying to be tell me that Roger Federer is not aggressive? That he doesn't want to win? He wants to win every point But the body language, what he says and the mannerism really matters. That is really setting example," said Tendulkar.
The batting great, who retired from cricket in 2013, is impressed with the improved fitness level of the current sportspersons, especially the younger lot. He, however, added that fitness should only be seen as something that supplements the existing skill set. "I don't think fitness has got anything to enhance your skill level. But (if you are fit) whatever you are good at, you will be able to do that longer. I don't think if somebody is physically fit, he is going to outswing his swing a little more. That you have to bowl and develop," he said.
"So, I would say if somebody has to learn how to bat, he has to bat, he can't be in the gym and hope to become better batsman. It can only add to what he is practising at the nets. So, it's about being more focused on your skill set and fitness will only compliment that."
Tendulkar believes a lot depends on the guidance and support that a player gets. Recounting from his personal experience, the 46-year-old said he was lucky to have a good support team that helped him maintain sanity in pressure situations. At a time when mental health is being talked about like never before, Tendulkar says every player should have somebody to rely on for emotional stress.
"All athletes go through ups and downs. Everybody has challenging moments. I would say that is when the support team, be it your family or if you have an injury it would be the doctor, physios, masseurs, coaches, friends become crucial. How all these people around can keep you in the space where you can go out and compete. In my case, there were challenging moments but I had a very good support team who kept me in that space so that I could go out and deliver. You are not confused because you know there is a solid team working for you," Tendulkar said.
In 2019, three Australian cricketers Glenn Maxwell, Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson took a break from cricket due to mental health issues. "My coaches, my brother, my wife and parents were there for me. On various occasions, I have spoken to them and we have had a proper discussion, where I felt the decision needs to be taken and it was a critical one. I have always looked up to these people for advice," he said.
Along with mental health, Tendulkar said it was the duty of an individual to listen to his or her body to avoid injuries. Stress fracture, generally caused by overuse of a particular ligament or body part, is a type of injury which has been prevalent among Indian sportspersons, with Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya being two of the most recent high profile victims.
"I think rehab is very important. Each body is different so the stress levels will be different because of their bowling action, because of their running style, because of the impact of the body while releasing the ball. Someone who is 6 feet 5 inches, the way he lands, compared to someone who is 5 feet 9 inches is going to be different. So, all those things matter. The deeper you get into it, the more you can discover. Every individual needs to understand his or her body. It will always give you signals. If you are sharp enough to understand and pick those signals, it helps in injury prevention when you have the right people around," said Tendulakr, who himself had to battle with an elbow injury (tennis elbow) for close to two years from 2004-06.
"Also not to forget, when you are competing, you always want to give hundred per cent. I didn't want to settle at 99 per cent. I always wanted to be 100 per cent on the field. While doing that there are going to be injuries. That's fine. But as long as I am giving everything, it doesn't matter."