By 1995, Sachin Tendulkar was managed by WorldTel's Mark Mascarenhas, who was credited for making the Mumbai batting great the highest paid player in the game. Yet, when it came to the 1996 World Cup, Tendulkar did not have a bat contract. Ajit Wadekar, the Indian team's then cricket manager found it amusing, but never bothered asking him about it.
Tendulkar now reveals in an interview with Time magazine that he was approached with a deal two matches into the World Cup, but turned it down, fearing it would distract him. He told Time: "At no stage did I feel I would have to make compromises to earn an extra buck. I'll give you an example. There was a company which wanted to sign a contract with me during 1996 World Cup, to put their logo on my bat.
But I had already played the first two matches without a sticker on the bat: I was used to the way it looked, and didn't want to change that in the middle of the tournament; didn't want the distraction. So I said, 'Offer me whatever, I'm not signing this contract.'"
Wadekar had a story to relate which concerned the bare bat that Tendulkar used in that tournament to flay the world's best bowling attacks. "I had this sticker-less bat which I used for fielding and catching practice. Sachin somehow liked the feel of it. Of course, it was slightly lighter than the bats he normally uses. He asked me if he could have it and I had no problems in giving it to him," Wadekar told MiD DAY yesterday.
Wadekar was surprised to hear the actual reason why Tendulkar did not have a sticker to his bat during the 1996 World Cup in which India crashed out in the semi-final against Sri Lanka. "The fact that he did not sign the deal because it would distract him shows again the kind of commitment he has," said Wadekar. Tendulkar has gone on record to say that he collects his bats. Wonder whether the sticker-free one he used in that tournament which fetched him 523 runs at 87.16 figures in his collection.