His heavy bat was a major talking point whenever Sachin Tendulkar battled injuries in his over-two-decade-long career but the iconic cricketer said he was never convinced about giving it up for a lighter one as his timing got affected everytime he tried the change.
In his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’, Tendulkar wrote he was asked several times to try a lighter bat but it never worked for him.
“I used a pretty heavy bat and I was sometimes encouraged to move to a lighter one. Again, I did try but I never felt comfortable, as my whole bat swing depended on that weight. When I was hitting a drive, I needed the weight to generate the power. It was all to do with the timing,” he explains.
The all-time leading scorer in the game also offered an interesting take on how to hold the bat.
“To me the bat should be an extension of your arm, and if you’ve reached the stage where it’s become an extension of your arm, why do you need to change? What mattered to me most when I was batting was feeling comfortable.
“As long as I felt comfortable, it didn’t matter where I was playing or who I was playing against. If you make technical adjustments, such as moving to a lighter bat, to cope with different conditions, there’s a risk of making yourself feel uncomfortable and of thinking too much about your technique,” he says.
Tendulkar has advised budding batsmen against too much experimentation, saying the “bat should be an extension of your arm” and there is no need for a change in technique if “you have reached that stage”.
The master blaster also talks about the intricacies of his batting.
“People have often commented on my own grip, which is very low down on the handle. It all goes back to when I started playing cricket when I was eleven with my brother Ajit, who is ten years older. As I didn’t have a bat of my own, I had to use Ajit’s full-size bat and the only way I could cope with the weight at that age was to hold the bat right at the bottom of the handle,” Tendulkar writes.
“Some coaches suggested changing my grip, and I did experiment, but it never felt right. I had got used to feeling the end of the handle pressing against the inside of my forearm and if I gripped the bat further up I didn’t have that, and batting just didn’t feel natural.
“That’s not to say that my technique didn’t change at all, though. Throughout my career, I was always looking to improve and constantly tried new things to cope with different situations. My backlift changed significantly over the years, for example,” he explains.
Tendulkar said one must try to read the bowler’s mind rather than thinking too much about “your own batting”.
“I’ve always felt that I’ve batted best when my mind has been at the bowler’s end of the pitch, not at my end. In fact, for both batsmen and bowlers, I’ve always believed that cricket is played best when your mind is at the opposite end and that problems occur when your mind is stuck at your own end.
“For example, if a bowler is thinking too much about bowling no-balls, he’s not going to be able to bowl what he wants to bowl. Instead, his mind should be at the batsman’s end, focusing on where he’s going to pitch the ball, which way he’s going to swing it and so on.
“As a batsman, if I’m not consciously worrying about my footwork or my backlift or my wrist-work, then I know that I’m in the right space, because my mind needs to be at the opposite end, figuring out what the bowler is trying to do. There’s no time to think about both ends at the same time,” he says.