Wednesday 18 July 2007 

'I'm Still Enjoying The Game' - Tendulkar

India's record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar said that he was enjoying the game as much now as in 1990 when he was 17 and playing his first Lord's test match.

Tendulkar, who has scored more test centuries (37) than anyone, is on his fourth test tour of England and will feature in the first of three tests at Lord's on Thursday. Time on the road has not affected his appetite for cricket.

"I am absolutely enjoying it and that is the reason for me to walk on the cricket field," Tendulkar told reporters at Lord's. "The rest of the things follow. The most important thing is my love for the game.

"If I feel I am not enjoying it as much (as I used to) there is no reason to be out there. But at this time I am really enjoying going out into the middle. It's the love for the game that takes me out there on the field and it's wonderful."

Tendulkar's first Lord's experience was when he watched India win the World Cup on television in 1983 and his first visit was as a spectator with a travelling Mumbai cricket club when he was 14.

His first test there ended in defeat when Graham Gooch scored 333.

Tendulkar has never scored a test century at Lord's, though did make a three-figure score in a charity match in 2005. But that is not enough for him.

"I don't want to put any pressure on myself that I have not been able to do it," said Tendulkar, who has scored 10,922 runs in 137 tests. "This is a ground where all the batters dream of getting a hundred -- I'm no different."

Tendulkar, 34, who warmed up with 171 against England Lions at the weekend, refused to say this would be his final England test tour but said the next likely trip in 2011 or 2012 would require a "special effort" for him to be back.

Tendulkar, softly spoken and thoughtful in his manner, is not one for revealing too much about his plans in public and he explained why even his family are not privy to his goals.

"I do have targets because I think it is important that when you are sitting back in your room you know what you want to contribute. Those are my targets, to contribute to the best of my ability.

"(But) I never disclose my targets. There are certain things which I just keep to myself, which nobody knows about, not even my family knows about. It motivates me and pushes me to go out and give my best."

By Richard Sydenham
© Reuters 2007.