When Sachin Tendulkar batted with his eyes closed
is one of the biggest superstars in the world of cricket. No cricketer in the history of the sport has been under such intense public glare for such a long period of time as Tendulkar was, and no cricketer bore the burden of expectations of a billion-plus people on his shoulders every time he strode out to bat like how Tendulkar did.
We all, in fact, grew up hearing about the legend of Tendulkar.
We know the famous story of how Dennis Lillee rejected Tendulkar when he visited the MRF pace academy aspiring to become a pace bowler; we know the story of how Tendulkar in his early days grew up idolizing tennis legend John McEnroe the story of how he returned to play for his country in the 1999 World Cup just days after his father’s funeral; how he recovered from a career threatening tennis elbow injury; the story of how he batted with tissues inside his underwear against Sri Lanka during the 2003 World Cup.
But there is one incident which many cricket fans might not have heard of: Tendulkar once batted with his eyes closed in a practice session during the 2011 World Cup!
In his autobiography titled Playing It My Way, Tendulkar writes,
was on the eve of the West Indies match that I tried to introduce an element of fun into my batting practice. I was practising to some throw-downs from Gary Kirsten and was just about to wrap up the session when the idea came to me.
I decided to close my eyes for just six deliveries, just after the bowler released the ball, then I asked Gary if he had noticed anything different. Gary said he hadn’t, except that my head was staying up while driving. I had to keep my head steady, because with your eyes shut, you can easily lose the path of the ball with a very slight movement of the head.
When I told him that I’d had my eyes closed, he was shocked. I explained that I had watched his wrist position when he released the ball, to see if it was, say, an out swinger, and then closed my eyes and visualized the path that the ball would travel. After that, I went a step further by keeping my eyes shut, and telling the fielders where I had hit the ball, based on how and where I felt the ball on the bat.”
It is almost unreal to imagine anybody batting with his eyes closed. But when you have so much passion and are madly in love with the craft you pursue like how Tendulkar was, these things are indeed possible.
It is this passion that allowed Tendulkar to carry on for almost a quarter of a century at the top, and score a mind boggling hundred international hundreds. Most importantly, it allowed him to capture his place in the hearts of millions of cricket lovers across the globe.