Cricket: How Tendulkar changed Yorkshire forever

By Oliver Brown

Sachin Tendulkar.
Sachin Tendulkar.

A piece of Sachin Tendulkar will remain forever Yorkshire. He depicts his unlikely allegiance with the White Rose, consummated in the heady summer of 1992, as "one of the greatest 4 months I have spent in my life".

And yet to savour the most exotic flavour of this chapter of Tendulkar the Tyke one needs to plot a course beyond Headingley, to the Texaco garage on Savile Rd in Dewsbury, above which Solly Adam still cherishes the memories of when the young Sachin was neither the Little Master nor even a star, but simply the deferential teenage guest at his dining-room table.

"He would come for Indian food at my house, and my wife and sister-in-law would iron his clothes," says Adam, the garrulous businessman and self-made cricketing kingmaker whose extensive web of local-league contacts in old Bombay helped anoint Tendulkar as Yorkshire's first non-white player. "Whenever he was free we would take him to weddings or the cinema. We would go up to Leeds for Kentucky Fried Chicken - for some reason he loved it."

It was a time of such innocence that Adam, personally invited by Tendulkar to the farewell of kaleidoscopic madness in Mumbai this week, can barely believe it happened. "It clicks in my mind every time I see him now," the 61-year-old admits. "He is the god of cricket, mobbed whenever he steps outside his house, but here in the early-90s he could be freer. We gave him a small Honda car with his name on it and still he would not be bothered.

In 1992, Yorkshire County Cricket Club were not the most lavishly hospitable recipients of imported talent. It had been a cornerstone of policy for seven decades for their team to be resolutely homegrown, until a precipitate decline in form throughout the 1980s forced their hand, prompting Geoffrey Boycott's committee to vote by 18 to one to usher in an age of enlightenment.

The name "Sachin" finally passed the lips of chairman Sir Lawrence Byford and Adam, who knew Tendulkar and could claim a mutual friend in Sunil Gavaskar, took his cue.

Tendulkar sounded uncertain.

"'No, I'm too busy,' he replied. Then, after a pause: "'But let me think about it.' So straight away I called up Gavaskar. He was the one who best understood Sachin's ambitions, and he was going to persuade him."

Gavaskar imparted the right words and Chris Hassell, the club's chief executive, soon arrived in India with a contract for their man to sign.

Thus it transpired - through the cluster of rented houses that Adam had already acquired for Vinod Kambli and Praveen Amre, two of Tendulkar's World Cup colleagues to have made the journey - that he made 34 Wakefield Crescent, a cream-coloured residence deep in Dewsbury suburbia, his first home in England. In his first match for Yorkshire he was out for 86. Adam recalls: "He was so upset when we met afterwards. He had been run out at the non-striker's end and said: 'I'm very disappointed. I always like to score a century in my first match. Wherever I have made my debut before, I've always done so'."

Adam discovered Tendulkar could be strikingly generous with his time. Even after county practice, he would come to support him at his matches in the Bradford League.

But the most abiding picture for Adam arises from a gesture that his guest made upon leaving Dewsbury. "He had his plane ticket back to India, and he knocked on my door at 11.30pm. He came in, and touched my feet," an emotional Adam said. "It is a traditional sign of respect in Hindu-ism. 'Solly-Bhai,' he said, 'I am going tomorrow'."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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