‘He could’ve been the youngest ever’: When Danny Morrison denied Sachin Tendulkar an elusive century
Danny Morrison was the bowler responsible for denying a young Sachin Tendulkar the feat of becoming the youngest ever Test centurion but the former New Zealand quick admits he spotted something special when he first bowled to the then teen-prodigy. Tendulkar was just 16 when he toured New Zealand for his second Test series, and Morrison, who was playing his third Test in the second match in Napier, couldn’t help but marvel at the way the little man was batting.
“Ken Rutherford captained one of the President’s XI [teams], against [India] and Sachin played the tour game, and I remember Rutherford discussing at a team meeting, ‘This guy has a lot of time and looks a very, very special talent.’ I suppose, in a way, it was sort of ridiculous because he was like a guy who could have been in the first year of school. He was 17,” Morrison said on The Edges & Sledged podcast.”
“Here he was playing international cricket and looked beautiful getting into line, sometimes leaving Richard Hadlee with a beautiful shape and that. I mean, early on, it’s going to be intimidating, like for all of us, your first Test match, first series. I think he had played one Test against Pakistan. This was the actual first full series he was getting and he was up against Hadlee, who was... I mean, yeah, at the end of his career, but still, one hell of a bowler.”
After scoring a duck and 24 in the first Test at Christchurch, Tendulkar, who was coming off a couple of half-centuries from his first Test series against Pakistan, struck a glittering 88 and was on the cusp of becoming the youngest Test centurion, overtaking Mushtaq Mohammad who scored a 101 against India in 1961, at the age of 17 years and 78 days.
But Morrison reckons it was a rush of adrenaline that led to Tendulkar’s dismissal, slapping the ball to his future India coach, John Wright.
“When I look at that and remember, yeah, a couple of shots... I remember the 88 he got in Napier, and he was in such a hurry! I think he hit me for three fours in this one over, and you could see that impetuous nature of the youth and he wanted to keep going, he ended up smashing me to John Wright (at mid-off),” Morrison recalled.
“That was it, and hence saying he was so impetuous because he could have been the youngest ever, and you could see it took him an age to get off the ground. [It was] like a snowball rolling down the hill, getting bigger and bigger, just getting boom, boom, boom until it went bust, sort of hit a tree down the mountain, which was a shame for Indian fans because he was going so beautifully. Got out for 88.
“But that’s the game, he could have been out on the second ball or whatever, playing a shot like that, but he was on a roll. Real talent, no doubt about that.”
Tendulkar eventually scored his maiden Test ton later that year, aged 17 years and 107 days. Mohammad’s record stood for 40 years before Bangladesh’s Ashraful scored a century against Sri Lanka at the age of 17 years, 61 days.