Sachin the best, Sehwag man of my heart: Slater
For Australian Test discard Michael Slater, Sachin Tendulkar has always been the best batsman in the world, but he considers Virender Sehwag as the "man of my heart".
"Tendulkar has always been, for me, the best batter in the world. I love his technique," Slater, who is here as a television commentator, told IANS.
"He's a little bit more conservative these days, but that comes with age and the longer you play the more risk-free you become, I suppose," he said. "But he is a class act."
However, Slater, who was known for his quicksilver footwork and stroke play, also identifies himself with swashbuckling Sehwag.
"I love watching Sehwag bat. He is a man of my heart, in a way, because the way he plays his shots," said Slater, who played 74 Tests and 42 one-day internationals between 1993 and 2001.
"I love an opening batsman who can take it to the opening bowlers and we saw in the first Test the effect can have on the team, given that he scored his 300 so quickly," Slater said, referring to the 309 Sehwag scored in the first Test at Multan to help India win by an innings and 52 runs.
What of the huge difference between Slater's footwork and that of Sehwag?
"The secret of his minimum footwork is that he keeps his head still and watches the ball so close," Slater said. "Once he gets going, he is plainly hard to stop. Any width, and he is ruthless on that. He is an exciting player to watch."
Slater also believed Sehwag need not change his natural style much.
"The hardest and the most important thing at this level is to know your own game. As we saw (in Multan), in certain conditions his game suits flat pitches and bowlers who are bowling straight," he pointed out.
"Over a period a period of time he will learn if there is something not working for him he will think about whether to change it," he continued.
"But the key with players like him is that he is very instinctive, he trusts his natural ability and that's what he has to keep doing."
Slater, a temperamental player who is now much mellowed as a commentator, said: "He is trusting his natural talent and instincts, and if he does that and keeps watching the ball, yeah, he doesn't have to change anything."
Comparing the Indian and Pakistani teams, Slater said Rahul Dravid's side is slightly better than Inzamam-ul-Haq's team.
"Laxman, Dravid they are all class players and they have been playing for a long time and it is showing," said Slater of arguably the world's strongest batting line-up.
"On the whole, India is the stronger side because they have been together for a long time, they are good unit, they have played well and they look a very confident side," he reasoned.
"They have done well in Australia recently, and that's done a world of good for them. They have got nice, really good balance of senior players and young players," he said, adding that Pakistan always had "very talented" players.
Like many other Australian players, Slater is also impressed by the passion for the game in the subcontinent.
"Cricket is like a religion in a way in both countries and everyone is so passionate about it that there is not doubt that when I was asked to do the series I was excited about it," he admitted.
On his own cricket career, Slater has realised his days with the Australian team are virtually over, though he is looking ahead to playing for New South Wales again next year.
"I'm 34. My last game (for Australia) was in 2001. I am still playing for New South Wales, though I was injured this year," he said.
Slater's association with TV began when he appeared on a cricket show on Channel 9 some years ago. He was invited by Britain's Channel 4 four years ago and is now working with TEN Sports.