'When you are playing against Sachin Tendulkar you somehow find a way to go that little bit extra. I was lucky to get him out more times than anyone in the world.' Harish Kotian reports.
Former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee, who was in Mumbai on Tuesday, was drawn into the debate on Tendulkar and Lara's greatness.
Last week, South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis faced the same question and rated Lara as a better batsman than Tendulkar.
"I would have to say Sachin. He has got that aura. He would be the guy I choose.
"Nothing against Brian Lara, because he is a great guy and I have some great battles against him. But when you are playing against Sachin Tendulkar you somehow find a way to go that little bit extra," said Lee, on the sidelines of an event to promote tourism to Melbourne for the 2015 World Cup.
Lee, 37, said it was a dream come true for him to have bowled to Tendulkar in his first ever Test, in Melbourne in 1999. It turned out to be a perfect debut for him, as he took five wickets in the first innings and claimed two in the second to lift Australia to a 180-run victory despite a century and fifty by Tendulkar.
"When I played my first Test match in Melbourne as a 23-year-old fresh-faced kid, and I looked at that person who resembled Sachin Tendulkar, he was tiny, his bat was very thick and he was ready to play. I said to myself, ‘this is the guy I want to play against; this is what dreams are made of’. I was pinching myself thinking is it still a dream. I wanted to get my autograph book and ask him for an autograph rather than bowl to him," he recalled.
Lee has the unique distinction of dismissing Tendulkar 14 times, the most in international cricket. But the pacer believes the batting icon did Australia more damage with the bat than him with the ball in Tests and One-Day Internationals.
"We had many great battles and I was lucky to get him out more times than anyone in the world. But I have been on the receiving end to the many hundreds he has scored against us, like the hundred he scored in Melbourne back in 1999 or the hundreds he has scored against us all around the world."
Image: Sachin Tendulkar (left) with Brian Lara