During his sensational 24-year international career, Sachin Tendulkar took on the best bowlers in the world across the globe, and came up trumps against most. But, speaking at the HT Leadership Summit, Sachin bowled a googly when he revealed that the military medium pace of late South African skipper Hansie Cronje was the toughest he found to face. Cronje dismissed Tendulkar three times in ODIs, and five times in Tests.
"Hansie Cronje was the toughest bowler I have faced. He was tricky to play. Even when I am set, when I see Hansie coming in to bowl I used to tell myself, anybody but him. And he has got me out a few times too. There have been times when Hansie would come on to bowl and I would ask, ‘why don’t you give me Allan Donald?,” the Indian legend admitted. He also had an interesting anecdote to share about former South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis. “When he came into bat, he would always stand and stare at the grass and we would joke about it. But without doubt, it was his focus and concentration,” Tendulkar added.
When asked about whether he enjoyed bowling leg spin or off-spin, Tendulkar had a rather interesting answer. “You left out Sachin the fast bowler! You ask one of the batsmen I have bowled to at the nets, from 16 yards how fast my ball came!,” he said. It is a famous story that Tendulkar had once gone to the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai hoping to be a fast bowler, but was rejected by Dennis Lillee. The Aussie legend later quipped that Indian cricket should be thankful to him, because it was because of him that Tendulkar decided to focus on batting.’
Speaking about the declining interest among the new generation in Test cricket, Tendulkar opined that lack of rivalry was one of the big reasons behind the same. "When we grew up we had rivalries like Sunil Gavaskar vs Imran Khan, Viv Richards vs Jeff Thomson and then (Brian) Lara vs Glenn McGrath or Steve Waugh vs Curtly Ambrose. West Indies team in '80s and '90s generated interest. The target then was to beat the West Indies. Australia was an incredible players. Nine world class and if 3-4 could close the game. That is missing," Tendulkar went on to illustrate at the HT summit.
When queried about the possible solution, Tendulkar added, “Look we went to England in 2014 and lost the series. Now England are down in this series and since 2014, they have lost a couple of players. My suggestion is to have back to back matches against same the side home and away. Let us play two Tests in India and then two Tests in England. Same set of players but different venues. Obviously there will be some changes in terms of form and injuries but core will be same. That will be a fair contest."
Not known for commenting on controversial topics, Tendulkar refused to comment on the Lodha Committee recommendation as the SC verdict is still pending, but did back the BCCI. "My personal feeling is that when I was growing up, I got a lot of support from the BCCI. The BCCI and the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) arranged a lot of camps," he stated.
--By A Cricket Correspondent