'Sachin Tendulkar was a few miles ahead of me, I wanted to be at par with him': Brian Lara on HTLS 2022
HTLS 2022: Brian Lara was all praise for his friend, terming Sachin Tendulkar as ‘the most accomplished Indian batter against fast bowling’ he had ever seen.
Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, two of the biggest cricket icons of the modern-day game, talked about their first impression of each other in the Day 5 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday. Sachin, though four years younger to Lara, made his international debut in 1989 a year before the Trinidadian played his first match for the West Indies. It was during an exhibition match in Toronto in 1990, Canada that the two young and explosive batters who would go on to become world-beating icons in the future, crossed paths for the first time.
"The first time I met Brian was in 1990 in Toronto. I had scored my first test 100 and just after that there was an exhibition game – West Indies vs Rest of the World. Saw him in the hotel lobby, the moment I saw him, we got along well. We both were the youngest players of our respective sides. It was easier for me to match eyelines with Brian rather than Ambrose, Walsh and other fast bowlers. Whenever we met after that, Brian would look out for me or I would do it. It's not the player that he is, it's actually the person he is. I value that friendship," Tendulkar said.
In India, Tendulkar even when he was just taking baby steps at the international level, was regarded as one of the best batters. The one for the future, with every attribute of a great batter presented to him as a birthright. If anyone was deemed to be near his class and abilities at that time, it was Lara. The sheer elegance with which he drove the ball after that lovely backlift making the bat look like a magic wand was a sight to behold.
Sachin, however, was mesmerised by the balance Lara had at the crease. "My first impression about Brian was his terrific balance. That agility in the crease, getting to the pitch of the ball, great hands, it's a God's gift," said the former India captain, who is still the highest run-scorer in Tests and ODIs by some distance.
Lara too was all praise for his friend, terming Sachin as ‘the most accomplished Indian batter against fast bowling’ he had ever seen.
"When I met Sachin, he was already an established teenager. I was playing a lot of ODIs by then. Sachin said I was very small, fragile. I had the opportunity to hone my skills in one-dayers. My first impression of Sachin was that I had never seen an Indian batsman so accomplished against extreme fast bowling. Indian bowlers were good against spin but here was a teenager who scored runs against the best teams, bowling attacks in the world. From that day, I measured myself against Sachin. He was a few miles ahead of me at that time, I really wanted to be on part with him," he said.
Of the close to 1100 international matches that both Lara and Tendulkar played in their decorated careers, they came up against each other only 45 times. But such was the aura of their batting that it was somehow enough to strike a bond between them. Batting greatness was the common factor and it was much bigger than geographical boundaries or even rivalry on the cricket field. The same was visible when the two legends - who have scored 56715 international runs between them - crossed paths during the Road Safety World Series earlier this year. And each and every time they have met each other during their playing days and beyond.