Cronje told me 'whenever that guy comes to bat, you're on': Donald names 3 best batters he bowled to, Tendulkar included

  • South Africa great Allan Donald has listed the three best batters he's ever bowled to, a list which comprises India legend Sachin Tendulkar.
Allan Donald has called Sachin Tendulkar as the best technically-sound batter he's ever bowled to. (Getty Images)
Allan Donald has called Sachin Tendulkar as the best technically-sound batter he's ever bowled to. (Getty Images)
Updated on Apr 09, 2022 07:42 AM IST
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ByHT Sports Desk, New Delhi

Former South Africa pacer Allan Donald was one of the quickest and most awe-inspiring fast bowlers of recent decades. As scary as he was on the field, Donald is equally a friendly and consummate gentleman off it. During his career, Donald faced off against some of the greatest batsmen of all time, among which the South Africa legend rated Sachin Tendulkar as the best technically-sound batter he ever bowled to. Donald and Tendulkar squared off on several occasions, but none memorable than during India's 1992 and 1996 tours of South Africa. In both series, Tendulkar batted splendidly and notched up centuries, and Donald knew that this was a special player he was up against.

"Technically, the best player I ever played against was Sachin Tendulkar. Home or away, he could adapt. When he came to South Africa, you could clearly see that he adapted his technique to bouncier wickets. And he left the ball so well. He triggered in South Africa. In India, he didn’t because of lower bounce. And his hands took over in India because the wickets just slid on so beautifully. And not to mention the turn, but in South Africa and Australia, he triggered a little bit. He got closer to off-stump, knew where he was. He got hundreds against every country in the world and in their own conditions," Donald told Paddy Upton on his podcast 'Lessons From The World's Best'.

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The other two players Donald valued bowling to the most are West Indies great Brian Lara and former England captain Michael Atherton. About Lara, Donald, also known as the 'White Lightening', recalled how everytime the 'Prince of Trinidad' would come out to bat, former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje would hand over the ball to his premier pacer.

"The next to me who was an absolute genius and a shot-maker to boot was Brian Lara. Hitting good balls for bour off back of a length, or that pick-up pull shot that he played. I know when they came to South Africa, Hansie Cronje said to me… whenever that guy comes to the wicket, you are on. You've got free liberty to just take him on.' He got a 100 in Durban and he got a 100 at SuperSport Park. He was an absolute genius. Brian Lara for me, just… he smoked it to all parts.

Describing Atherton, no mention is incomplete without Donald's spell to the former England batter at Nottingham, where after peppering him with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, the SA quick would finally get his wicket. However, as it turns out, Atherton was a victim of poor umpiring and he was not out. 

The best bit of cricket that I ever played against was Michael Atherton in Nottingham sort of in the late afternoon. I realised that maybe it's the right time now to ask for the ball and Hansie was happy for me to come and have a crack. So the first ball I bowled over the wicket, came out sweetly, it had a nice shape on it. The ball was fairly oldish then. I came round the wicket and the very first ball I bowled to him, he gloved it and Mark Boucher took a great catch. But then I looked at the slip cordon’s reaction and realised that it was not out. I walked back and there were boos and all sorts of things going on," Donald recalled.


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