Wednesday 4 April 2007 

Tendulkar Hits Out At Criticism From Chappell

Leading batsman Sachin Tendulkar has reacted angrily to suggestions that coach Greg Chappell has questioned the attitude of India's senior players after the team suffered a first-round exit at the World Cup.

"I've given my heart and my soul for 17 years. No coach had mentioned even in passing that my attitude was not correct," the 33-year-old batsman was quoted as saying in the Times of India newspaper on Wednesday.

"Cricket has been my life for all these years and will always be."

Local media on Tuesday quoted sources close to the India coach as saying that Chappell was to raise the issue of the attitude of top players at the national board's meeting later this week.

"Tell me, the world has gone on talking about all this (our defeat and exit) but has anybody spared a thought for us? Did they try to find out what we have been going through?" Tendulkar said.

"I am shattered beyond words and I feel helpless. I've never felt so bad in my entire career."

The 1983 winners crashed out in the first round of the event after losing two out of three group matches, to Bangladesh and former champions Sri Lanka.

Irate fans and a number of former players have called for the axe to fall on captain Rahul Dravid and Chappell, while senior players are also under fire.

Even Tendulkar may not escape the wrath of the cricket-crazy fans. A majority of the respondents to polls being conducted by private television channels want him to retire.

Darling of Indian households since making his debut as a curly-haired 16-year-old in 1989, Tendulkar flopped against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and managed only a half century against Bermuda.

"No matter how many tests or one-day series you win, nothing else even comes close to a World Cup triumph. The World Cup was our passion, our collective goal, our dream and that has been shattered. We all are terribly disappointed over it," he said.

"Again, it's not that we are defending ourselves. We do realise that we played badly and, as a team, we take full responsibility for that. But what hurt us most is if the coach has questioned our attitude."

The two-day board meeting, beginning on Friday, is expected to decide the future of several senior members of the World Cup team and coach Chappell.


© Reuters 2007.