Move aside the Glenn McGraths and Muttiah Muralitharans, the only bowler who has tested Sachin Tendulkar to an extent that the Indian batting icon "didn't know what to do" while facing him was stunningly the late Hansie Cronje! The ex-South African captain, who died in a plane crash after being banned for match-fixing, was the one man Tendulkar found hard to deal with and bowling technique had nothing to do with it.
"Honestly. I got out to Hansie more than anyone. When we played South Africa he always got me out more than Allan Donald or Shaun Pollock. It wasn't that I couldn't pick him – it's just that the ball seemed to go straight to a fielder," Tendulkar told 'The Guardian'.
Cronje, primarily a middle-order batsman, was efficient with his medium pace fetching 43 wickets in 68 Tests and 114 ODI wickets in 188 matches before his spectacular fall from grace owing to the 2000 match-fixing scandal in which he was the prime accused.
He died in a plane crash in 2002. Tendulkar said facing Cronje was always a tricky proposition for him.
"I was going great guns in Durban one year and played some big shots against Donald and Pollock. Hansie came on and I flicked his first ball straight to leg-slip. I never knew what to do with him," he said.
Tendulkar once again named McGrath as the best fast bowler he ever faced and despite dominating Shane Warne, the Indian icon considered the Aussie to be the best spinner he came across.
"I did OK against him (McGrath). But, among the spinners, Warne at his best was still something special," he said.
The 37-year-old batsman, who has spent over 20 years in international cricket, is often compared to Sir Don Bradman and Tendulkar recalled some special moments he spent with the late Australian legend.
"We went to see him on his 90th birthday. It was very special. We were talking about averages and I said, 'Sir Don, if you were playing today, what would you have averaged?' And he said, '70 – probably.' I asked, 'Why 70 and not your actual average of 99?' Bradman said, 'Come on, an average of 70 is not bad for a 90-year-old man.' "This is what I tell my son. Whether you're an 11-year-old boy or Don Bradman we should never forget it's just a game we can all enjoy." His passion for the sport is well-documented and Tendulkar said even after spending over two decades in the international arena, he tries to re-invent himself.