Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cricket & Beyond - In Conversation with Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram

The inaugural Cricket & Beyond event was held in Dubai yesterday, 9th October, at the Rixos The Palm. The event featured two legendary cricketers - Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram. Cricket commentator and journalist Harsha Bhogle moderated the talk show.
The event lived up to the hype of its title - Cricket & Beyond. Harsha Bhogle took the entire crowd down memory lane by asking Sachin and Wasim about their memorable cricket performances, and then also went beyond and questioned both the legends about non-cricket related things.

The legendary cricketers were asked about their love for music. Sachin talked about Dire Straits and Gypsy Kings, while Wasim Akram talked about his love for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Kishore Kumar. Wasim is a huge Bollywood and Pakistani music junkie and he claimed last night that he gets hold of songs well before the general public because he knows people in the right places!
Similarly, Sachin watches Bollywood movies before they are released to the public. Not only is he invited for private viewing by actors and producers, he also receives unreleased cuts of movies at home, where he enjoys them on his home-cinema system.
Harsha Bhogle revealed that Sachin used to be the first one in the Indian dressing room to own the latest gadgets to listen music on. And soon after, the entire squad used to have the same one. Such was his following!
Both legends also talked about their love for food. We found out last night that there is hardly a restaurant in Dubai that Wasim Akram has not been to. He loves steak and played an influential role in introducing steak, sushi, and other continental foods to Rogan Josh loving Pakistani cricketers.
Similarly, Sachin narrated a story about how he was once raving about Japanese food to some of his team mates and one of them spoke highly about the same cuisine. The next time Sachin and that cricketer, who remained unnamed, went to a Japanese restaurant together, Sachin was so amused to see the cricketer spread wasabi all over his bread!
Wasim was asked about his secret for remaining fit and how he coped with diabetes. Wasim spoke of sleeping early and waking up early, going for a run every morning, and eating healthy! Pretty much what everyone talks about regarding remaining fit.
But what was inspirational to hear was about Wasim's fight with diabetes. He was diagnosed at the age of 29 and played top tier cricket for another 8 years. His insulin injections were a permanent feature of his cricket kit bag, and while on the field he used to stock his chocolates and other sweets with umpires to fight against low sugar levels.
Harsha also told the crowd that Sachin used to be a big prankster in the dressing room and his shy and sober demeanor is a mere facade.
Sachin talked about this time when he and Sehwag were in the bathroom and another senior cricketer, whose name Sachin again did not reveal, was in one of the cabins. Knowing that this cricketer was there Sehwag started discussing how Sachin's adidas t-shirts, shorts, and jackets looked better on him than they did on any of the other Indian cricketers. Sachin told Sehwag that it was because adidas sent him special personalized items that they did not make for anyone else.
An hour or two later, Sachin got a call from an adidas representative asking him what he had told that other cricketer about his clothes from adidas because he called them and asked for the same stuff!
All the beyond talk was very interesting. But it didn't overshadow the cricket talk where both Wasim and Sachin spoke about their World Cup wins, their other memorable performances, Sachin's debut series against Pakistan in 1989, the secret behind their longevity, their influence on junior cricketers, losses that they regret, and wins that they cherish.
The most interesting question that both of them were asked came from social media: "If you had access to a time machine, which match from your career would you like to play again?"

When Harsha asked the question, my immediate thought was that Wasim would say the 1999 World Cup Final and Sachin would say the 2003 World Cup Final, so that they could play those games against and alter the result.
The answers were quite different.
Wasim Akram said the 1992 World Cup Final and Sachin said the 2003 World Cup game against Pakistan at Centurion.
Harsha was quite surprised by the answers as well and talked about how champions think differently from us normal folks. While we thought they may choose to play matches they had lost to alter results, both of them chose to relive their wins!

What I would give to watch Wasim vs Sachin once again. Even at their age, I reckon they can provide for a better showing than many of the international stars. I wonder what sort of odds William Hill will give for a showdown between the two superstars.
It was quite a night where we got to experience an interesting conversation between two legends of the game. It was also a great start to the Cricket & Beyond Series, which continues in New York next month. There are other shows planned as well for Melbourne and London where Sachin will be joined with legends like Shane Warne and Brian Lara.

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