MUMBAI: Hailing Sachin Tendulkar's contribution to Indian cricket, his long-time teammate Rahul Dravid on Thursday said the veteran has inspired many youngsters across the country to take up the game.
"At the BCCI's annual awards function, Sachin said that Sunil Gavaskar had inspired him to take up the game. What Sachin has done is inspire generations of players in the small towns and villages across the country. That is the impact he has had on India and Indian society through television," said Dravid while launching the book "Sachin - Born To Bat" by Khalid AH Ansari, on Thursday.
The former skipper, who released the book edited by Clayton Murzello, said it had been a pleasure to play alongside Tendulkar and sharing the dressing room with him.
"We might have scored 6900 runs together. People may not remember me, but will certainly remember Sachin," said Dravid, who has moved over from the playing field to sharing television commentary duties with another former India captain Sourav Ganguly.
Recalling the first time he had seen Tendulkar bat as a 13-year-old boy in Cuttack in a match between his team South Zone against West Zone, Dravid said the way Tendulkar batted was a revelation to him.
"I was not included in the playing eleven. In those days who are not in the eleven were given scoring duties and I was scoring for my team in that match. Prior to reaching Cuttack I had made some runs at Bangalore and fancied myself as a batsman.
"After seeing Sachin score 67 there I put aside my pen and said...buddy you have a long way to go," said Dravid, who has amassed 13,388 runs from 164 Tests before retiring earlier this year.
"I have with great pleasure seen Sachin from close quarters construct an innings. He has great talent and a great mind. Here is a man who is not only born to bat but born to play cricket," gushed Dravid about the Mumbai batsman.
Dravid said he recently had a chat with fellow commentator and former Test player Sanjay Manjrekar who recalled a game for West Zone against South Zone in Chennai.
"Manjrekar said that it was a turning track and West did not have enough bowlers to exploit it. Overhearing his conversation with Ravi (Shastri), Tendulkar said in his squeaky voice "mai daloonga (I will bowl)".
"Asked what will he bowl, Tendulkar replied kuch bhi (anything), off spin, leg spin...", said Dravid quoting Manjrekar. The book has been published by Jaico Publishing House and has an introduction by Tendulkar.
"It has articles in it written on Tendulkar by Ganguly, (former Australia captain) Ian Chappell and (late journalist) Peter Roebuck," said a representative of the publishing house.