Nasser Hussain: Bradman great, but Tendulkar greatest
In the never-ending debate on whether Sir Donald Bradman or Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest batsman of all-time, former England captain Nasser Hussain gave his vote goes to the iconic Indian.
"Sir Donald Bradman was great, but, for me, the greatest batsman to have ever played the game is Sachin Tendulkar," he said.
Hussain rubbished the recent wave of criticism of the Indian cricket team following their humiliating defeat in England and Australia, saying the sub-continental giants are still a force to reckon with."You have Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh. And you -- till recently -- had (Rahul) Dravid," Hussain said, at the India Today Conclave, in Delhi, on Friday.
'Most of the Indian players were overcooked'
He, however, pointed out that the main reason for India's dismal show in England and Australia was excessive cricket.
"What I saw in England a few months after India's World Cup triumph was a team that was not well-prepared. They were not quite ready for England.
"While a lot of the players were undercooked, most of the Indian players were overcooked. There was too much cricket being played (the World Cup was followed by almost a two-month IPL)," said Hussain.
"The difference between the two sides was England were well-prepared while India were not," he added.
'It is important to recharge your batteries'
Hussain said senior players need to be given adequate rest.
"Modern cricketers are fit, well rested and prepared. That should happen," he insisted.
India's out-of-favour off-spinner Harbhajan Singh agreed with Hussain, saying, "It is important to recharge your batteries. When you are getting into 30s, you need a break and come back fresh and recharged." Hussain, though, attributed India's World Cup triumph last year to the Indian Premier League.
"IPL has given India players, like Suresh Raina, who became a massive factor in ODIs [during the 2011 World Cup]."
He pointed out that another problem with Indian cricket is its inability to produce enough quality bowlers.
"During the England series that followed the World Cup triumph, Praveen Kumar should not have been your best bowler. India always had quality batsmen, but where are the bowlers? Where are they coming from?"
'We need to be positive and support the side'
India opener Virender Sehwag, meanwhile, felt the players need to get over the disappointment of the recent Australian debacle.
"Wins and losses are part of life. We did not bat well in Australia and we lost the series. But we are faring well in the ongoing Asia Cup," Sehwag said.
"We need to be positive and support the side. Support is vital."
Recalling the support he received from his then captain, Sourav Ganguly, at the start of his career, Sehwag said: "Ganguly backed me and that gave me a lot of confidence."
The right-hander, who is presently recuperating from an inflammation in his sacroiliac joint and out of the Indian squad in the ongoing Asia Cup, said he is confident of getting back among the runs.
"I have already started working on my injuries and hope to get rid of the inflammation soon. Injuries have worried me a lot but I hope to be a lot fitter, especially relating to the shoulder injury," said Sehwag.
'We have learnt to play cricket in a fair way'
Meanwhile, both Sehwag and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh dismissed recent match-fixing allegations made by a London-based daily, saying no Indian cricketer would ever think of getting into that messy turf.
"No one in the Indian team is involved in fixing, I can promise you that," said Sehwag.
Harbhajan also agreed with his teammate, saying: "We have learnt to play cricket in a fair way. Cricket has given me everything, so would never do any wrong to this game.
Referring to the World Cup semi-final match against Pakistan that the daily claimed was rigged, the 'Turbanator' said all he remembered was that he could not sleep because of anxiety before the match and could not sleep of excitement after it.
"It was a big match for us. For me winning against Pakistan was like winning the World Cup. People say a lot of things but as long as you know that you played the game well you need not bother," he said.
Talking about the recent debate within the Indian cricket board over inclusion of young players in the side, the spinner said, "There is need to push young players in the national selection but it would be difficult to find replacements for Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag overnight.
"There is a lot of talent but it depends on the youngsters... how far they want to go and also take the team to the next level."
'I am the nicest person on earth'
Harbhajan, for whom winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2009 in Johannesburg was a "memorable moment", said he "did not remove my medal for two days after the final".
Insisting that he missed playing for the national team in the recently-concluded series Down Under, Harbhajan said: "I am working hard, really hard [to get back into the team]."
Asked whether players should avoid sledging on the field during a match, the bowler said till the time one does not cross his limit it is fine as the cricketers play to win.
"You play to win matches. Cricketers are like soldiers on the field, who are playing for their country and till the time you do not get too nasty or hurt anyone, it is fine," said Harbhajan, jokingly adding, he is a man of peace who never sledged on the ground, or outside.
"I am the nicest person on earth."