RS seat an honour, but not joining politics:Sachin

Pune: Sachin Tendulkar today said that his nomination to the Rajya Sabha was an honour but made it clear that he was not quiting cricket to join politics and will always remain a sportsman. Speaking for the first time since he was nominated for a Rajya Sabha seat on April 26, Tendulkar stated he would never enter politics by giving up cricket which he said was his life.

"I am not a politician. I am a sportsman and will always remain one. I am not going to enter politics giving up cricket, which is my life. I will continue to play cricket," he said during a felicitation function by a private firm for scoring his 100th international ton. Tendulkar`s acceptance of the Rajya Sabha membership has evoked a mixed reaction amongst sportspersons and politicians.

While many have hailed the government`s decision to honour him, there were others who have raised doubts on whether the champion batsman can find time and contribute in the Rajya Sabha. The 39-year-old Tendulkar acknowledged that the honour bestowed on him was for his contribution to the field of cricket. "I believe the President has chosen me after recognising what I have done for over 22 years," he said.

"Cricket is my expertise. I would like to contribute to that field. I am a sportsman and I will always be a sportsman," said Tendulkar who is the highest run getter in international cricket. He said many eminent persons, including melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and actor Prithviraj Kapoor too, had been nominated by the President for their contribution in their respective fields. Replying to a question on his scoring the 100th international hundred, Tendulkar said winning the World Cup was his most cherished dream, for which, he waited for close to 22 years.

"John Wright (the then coach) had told me in 2003 that I could become the first player to score hundred centuries. One has to keep chasing dreams till they come true. Sometimes, success is waiting round the corner and one should always think of taking that extra step to achieve it," he said. Recalling the wild celebrations in the country when India won the World Cup last year, Tendulkar said, "Outside the stadium, my driver told me that fans are dancing on my car. I told him not to stop them. I did not worry about the dents to the car. The Cup had brought the whole country together and it was the greatest day of my life."

On his handling of pressure situations, Tendulkar said, "While batting, it is important to concentrate on the present moment without thinking of the problems faced in the past. You have half a second to react while facing the next ball. One has to keep the mind blank and heart rate down to make the right decision." He told the audience that their good wishes were important for him to keep going.

"I am passionate about cricket. Cricket is my life. Keep praying for me so that I can derive strength from them. I pray to God to guide me in making right decisions," he said, hinting that he has no intentions of retirement at this juncture of his career. Stressing the importance of positive thinking, Tendulkar described the 2003 World Cup tie against Pakistan as his "biggest match". Pairing with Sehwag at the top of batting order, he put Pakistan on the backfoot before getting run-out on 98.

On his ability in handling success and failure, he said, "This mind training has come to me from my family. When I used to play school and club cricket, there was an unwritten rule not to discuss the performance and get ready for next match. "It was a simple formula. Whatever has happened, cannot be changed, be it success or failure. The only celebration at home if I did well, was offering of a sweet to God by my mother."

Asked why he does not publicise his charities, Tendulkar said, "I have been supporting deprived children by sponsoring their education through `Apanalaya Centre` for many years. But this is for my personal satisfaction and I do not need any publicity." He appealed to the people to experience the "joy of giving" as even small things contributed to the needy could prove precious to many unfortunate individuals. Tendulkar also extended his greetings to the Maharashtrians on the occasion of the Maharashtra Day by shouting "Jai Maharashtra".