Former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who played at the top level for 24 long years before retiring in 2013, has revealed how mentally taxing his cricketing career was and how he dealt with it.

With the COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave sending India to another lockdown and players spending increasing time in bio-bubbles to represent their countries these days, the subject of mental health has gained tremendous importance. And while discussing his playing days, Tendulkar, the country’s greatest cricket hero,  opened up about his pre-game quirks that helped him battle anxiety during his illustrious career.

Speaking in an interaction organized by Unacademy, Tendulkar said, “Over a period of time I realised that besides preparing physically for a game, you have to prepare yourself mentally also. In my mind, the match started long before I entered the ground. The anxiety levels were very high," reported PTI.

"I felt anxiety for 10-12 years and had many sleepless nights before a game. Later on, I started accepting that it was part of my preparation. Then I made peace with the times I was not able to sleep at night. I would start doing something to keep my mind comfortable."

Tendulkar explained how returning to things that distracted him from the concerns helped. These distractions ranged from watching TV and shadow batting to playing video games in the wee hours of the morning. He even made his morning cup of tea to prepare before a game.

"Making tea, ironing my clothes also helped me prepare for the game. I would pack my bag the day before the game, my brother taught me all of it and it became a habit. I followed the same drill even in the last match I played for India," the 48-year-old reminisced.

From inconsistent form to early tournament eliminations and long-term injuries, Tendulkar feels any player is bound to experience ups and downs but he believes that “acceptability is the key” to overcoming such challenges.

"When there is an injury, physios and doctors examine you and diagnose what is wrong with you. Same is the case with mental health.

“It is normal for anyone to go through ups and downs and when you hit those lows you need people around. Acceptability is the key here. Not just for the player, for people around him also. Once you have accepted you start looking for solutions," the master blaster added.

The champion batsman went on to thank the frontline workers for their tireless work in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak during the interaction. Tendulkar himself recovered from the virus earlier this year.

Featured Image: AFP/ Deshakalyan Chowdhury