Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Tendulkar pays the price for superstar status across India

SUPERHERO The world’s leading run-scorer risks being mobbed if he drives his car, has been called God and received letters written in blood

AFP , NEW DELHI

He owns a Ferrari but has not driven it for a year — just one price that Sachin Tendulkar pays for his iconic status in cricket-mad India.

But his popularity does mean he is one of the few men in the world who can talk his way onto a plane without a passport.

Tendulkar, revered for his extraordinary exploits with the bat, said the adulation makes him “uncomfortable” and he would rather remain a regular family man at home with his wife Anjali.

“I used to receive letters written in blood,” the 35-year-old was quoted as saying in the latest Indian edition of the magazine OK!


GOD

“It feels strange when a fan comes and touches your feet and says you are God. I don’t feel comfortable with it, but it is the way they feel about you,” he said.

Tendulkar regrets he cannot drive around Mumbai in the sports car with his son Arjun and daughter Sara as they would be mobbed by wild crowds as soon as the car got stuck in the city’s endless traffic jams.

“I did not get time to drive the Ferrari at all last year,” he said. “I can drive only early in the morning and the kids cannot wake up at that time.”

Tendulkar, however, admitted fame can have its advantages — as in Australia when he was once allowed to board a flight without a ticket or passport.

“I was out with two other players and when we got back to the hotel, the rest of the team had already left for the airport,” he recalled.

“We had no way of reaching them ... We had no tickets, no passports, nothing,” Tendulkar said.


TRULY SPECIAL

“I got to the counter at the airport and explained the situation. The guy at the counter recognized me and he gave us three boarding passes from Sydney to Melbourne ... without passports, without tickets. I felt that I was truly special,” he said.

Tendulkar, who is the world’s leading batsman with 12,429 Test and 16,440 one-day runs, said he enjoyed doing simple things like dropping his children off at school or cooking for friends and family.

He also took a swipe at the media, saying “criticism is hardly ever constructive.”

Tendulkar, who began playing international cricket in 1989, left for a tour of New Zealand with the Indian team early on Thursday.

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