Sachin Tendulkar has revealed that the tour of Australia in 1999 was the most challenging series he played in his 24-year long glorious international cricket career.
The legend states that the quality of the opposition and the Australian style of the play made things completely difficult for him and the Indian team.
“The toughest series without any doubt was in 1999 when we went to Australia and they had a great side. In a team of 11, you had literally seven to eight match-winners and the rest were also very good,” said Tendulkar speaking at a promotional event.
The side led by Steve Waugh featured stars like Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath among others. All of these names went on to dominate the cricketing world for a long time.
India, despite having solid names like VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, could not match the Australians, as the hosts put a lid on India’s challenge by handing them a 3-0 whitewash.
“That was a team which dominated world cricket for a number of years. They had their own style of playing, very aggressive.”
“I still remember in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, the brand of cricket they played, impressed the whole world.”
“Everyone wanted to play that brand of cricket. Though we all respect our styles of playing, but everyone felt that the brand of cricket they played was special. They were able to do that consistently. It was a world-class team.”
Tendulkar also rated Test cricket as the best format, both from a personal point of view and through the broader perspective of testing the worth of cricketer’s talent.
Every champion batsmen, regardless of his dominance over the bowlers, has specific bowlers against whom they fail, that too on a consistent basis. Sachin Tendulkar, in this case, had South Africa’s former skipper Hansie Cronje as his chief trouble maker.
The master blaster got better of some of the best names from the 90’s era: Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, McGrath, Warne and Ambrose. However, Cronje, a medium pacer, for some strange reasons, was Tendulkar’s biggest cause of concern as a batsman, he reveals.
“From 1989 when I started playing there would be at least 25 world class bowlers. But someone I didn’t enjoy batting against was Hansie Cronje. For some reason, I got out and over a period of time, I realised that I am better off being at the non-striker’s end.
“I would talk to whoever was (the other batsman) on the pitch I would say if (Allan) Donald or (Shaun) Pollock is bowling from another end I will manage but take more strike of Hansie,” he said.
He also shared a small incident from the early days of his career which taught him the importance of nutrition in sport.
“It was the biggest lesson of my life. When I got back to the dressing room, the first thing I asked was I need something to eat. I decided from that day that this should not be the reason for me to get out,” Tendulkar said.
“Invariably, when you don’t focus on nutrition, before losing the game, the first thing you lose is concentration. I started focusing on my nutritional intake along with my mental preparation and physical preparation,” he added