Sachin Tendulkar has had some great battles against opposition bowlers in his brilliant 24-year India career, but a question on which bowler he hated facing threw up an interesting answer.
In his long international career, Sachin Tendulkar’s battles with Australia’s Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Pakistan’s Wasim Akram, and West Indies’ Courtney Walsh are all well documented.
However, he surprised everyone at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit when he picked former South Africa skipper, Hansie Cronje, a handy seamer, as the man he hated to face.
The late Cronje has dismissed Tendulkar only thrice in 32 ODIs, but five times in 11 Tests, a record leading bowlers would be proud of against the best batsman of his generation for large periods.
“Hansie Cronje. There have been times when Hansie would come on to bowl and I would ask, ‘why don’t you give me Allan Donald?” The tall player’s in-coming deliveries in particular used to trouble the batsman.
Although he was a medium-pacer, he generated bounce due to strong shoulders and also moved the ball, making him a tricky customer even for top batsmen.
Sachin Tendulkar, during a rapidfire final segment, was asked to describe what among the following three batsmen stood out for him. Brian Lara, his great batting contemporary and rival, was all about “flair”. “That backlift…he was a complete package.”
And former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting? “His short of length pull shot. Nobody could play it like him. He played that shot and forced bowlers to change their length.”
It was funnier when it came to 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.”
Sachin Tendulkar the bowler has given many key wickets and victories for India, especially with his spin bowling. So what did he fancy himself as? Leg-break bowler, off-spinner? “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!”
Tendulkar, as a youngster, had tried to impress former Australia pace great and get into the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai, but thankfully, wasn’t successful as his batting career took off soon after.
There was no surprise who his favourite non-cricketer was as he is an ardent fan of Swiss tennis great, Roger Federer.
And the really fast guys he took guard against? It was Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar and Aussie Brett Lee, but the bowler he picked for special mention was West Indies’ Patrick Patterson, who he took on in Australia in 1991-92. The fast bowler with a shuffling run-up toured India in the 1980s.