Sachin Tendulkar sent out a warning to the teams participating in next year’s cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, saying they need to watch out for defending champions India.
Speaking at an event at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai, organised by the Australian consulate on the occasion of Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s two-day visit to India, the batting icon said, "I know that the World Cup will be played next year in Australia and New Zealand, and I have got some fond memories of the 1991-92 tour when we played in Australia and New Zealand. Just a gentle reminder to everyone that the defending champions are ready to defend."
Also present at the event were former Australia cricket stars Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee.
The Master Blaster fondly recollected one of his earlier visits to Australia to meet the country's greatest sports icon, Donald Bradman, on his 90th birthday.
"I think it was 1980 or '82, when my neighbour first showed me a letter that he had received from Sir Don. He said, 'I had written a letter to him, to which Sir Don has actually replied.' We checked out his autograph.
"I was too young to know about Sir Don at that time. Little did I know that 19-20 years down the line I would actually be visiting Sir Don's place to wish him on his 90th birthday. That was an experience in itself," Tendulkar said.
'Received greatest compliment from Don Bradman’
"I went there with Warnie (Australia's leg spin great Shane Warne) and both of us didn't know what to say or what questions to ask. That experience was really special.
"We had asked what would you have averaged in today's cricket, because he had mentioned the standard of playing in cricket was better now. He said he would have averaged probably 70. The natural reaction was: 'Why only 70, why not 99 (99.94)'. He said: 'Come on son, it is not bad for a 90-year-old-man'," recalled the champion batsman.
Recollecting the moment when he held the bat Bradman used in the 30s-40s, Tendulkar said, "I remember in 2007... I was playing a match at Sydney where I actually got to hold Sir Don's real bat.
"We obviously had to be careful. I had to wear gloves and all sorts of things. But it was an exciting moment for someone who 30 years ago was checking the autograph of Sir Don to progress to actually hold his real bat that he used in the 30s and 40s."
The 41-year-old, who retired from the game in 2013 after playing for an astonishing 24 years and scoring more runs and centuries than any other player in both Tests and One-day games, said he is proud to have the photograph of the all-time Test playing eleven, picked by Australian great Donald Bradman, framed at his home and will always "treasure".
"Coming back to the greatest compliment that I have received in my life, without any doubt, was from Sir Don.
"In 1994-95 he told his wife that my batting style resembles his batting style. It was the greatest compliment that I have received from him and the icing on the cake was when he picked me to be a part of his all-time Test playing eleven.
'What sport teaches you cannot be learnt in classrooms or boardrooms'
"That was a special moment for me in life. I have the photograph of the playing eleven framed at my place which I would treasure," he said.
The legendary batsman, meanwhile, called upon youngsters to play the game in the right spirit.
"You guys need to remember that you got to compete in the right spirit on the field and respect your opponents. I believe that sport teaches you a lot in life. It champions fitness, improves your health, improves your concentration level. You are able to focus longer and harder.
“I have also said earlier that something that sport teaches you cannot be learnt in classrooms or boardrooms.
"Sport has also taught me whenever I had to face defeat, to get on to my feet again and compete in the right spirit," said Tendulkar.
Former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Gilchrist said, statistically, Tendulkar is the greatest batsman to play the game.
"One of the great discussions around the cricketing world is ... who is the best --Tendulkar or Bradman? I think it is a fair comparison and fair discussion to have. I am not sure that it will work out who is. Certainly, statistically Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest cricketer to play the game. He is a true gentleman," Gilchrist said.
In a lighter vein, Australia's prime minister Abbott said India and Australia share a common passion: to beat England in cricket.
A research MoU between Indian Premier League franchise Kings XI Punjab and Australia's La Trobe University (LTU), based in Victoria -- for working on mutually agreed topics like fan engagement, marketing and promotional practices -- was also formally inked in the presence of the Abbott.