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Tendulkar's longevity puts us all to shame on that front: Lee

Last updated on: October 29, 2013 09:47 IST

'Tendulkar's longevity puts us all to shame on that front'

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Manu Shankar

Even as Sachin Tendulkar gets ready to play a landmark 200th Test, Brett Lee recalls the biggest regret of his cricketing career, in conversation with Manu Shankar 

Brett Lee started his international career with a bang! The Australian fast bowler claimed a five-wicket haul on his debut Test, against India, in Melbourne, in 1999-2000.

Now, ideally, any debutant would have been over the moon picking five wickets on debut, but Lee wasn't. He did not bag the big one. Sachin Tendulkar!

He managed to go through the defenses of all the leading Indian batsmen, except the batting ace he was in awe of ever since he started playing cricket.

Tendulkar scored a century in the first innings of the match before being snapped by pacer Damien Fleming. In the second essay, he was trapped leg before by Shane Warne a fine half-century.

“I was excited about my first Test, but was just as excited about bowling to the man I had watched and revered for many years," Lee, who played 76 Tests and 221 ODIs for Australia, told Rediff.com.

"He was confident, and I distinctly remember, his bat seemed much wider than anyone else's - could not get the ball past it!," he added.


Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Brett lee
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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'Challenge when playing India is to claim Sachin's wicket'

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Manu Shankar

Lee said the dream of any bowler when playing against India was to get that elusive wicket of Tendulkar.

"We, as bowlers, would want to bowl to the best, and the challenge when playing India is to claim Sachin's wicket," he said.

Earlier this month, Tendulkar announced his decision to retire from Test cricket after playing his landmark 200th Test, against the West Indies, in Mumbai, next month.

The 40-year-old batting icon is the highest run-getter in both Tests and ODIs, and also holds the record for maximum number of centuries in both forms of the game. He is also the only batsman to score 100 international centuries -- 51 in Tests and 49 in ODIs, while bettering several records in the game.


Image: Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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Handling expectations

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Manu Shankar

Lee paid rich tribute to Tendulkar for the way he handled the expectations of his countless fans in India over such a long career.

“He has played so much cricket under the expectations of a huge and passionate country. How he has handled it I will never know. I think people love what he has done and now wish him well for the future,” Lee said.

For the Australian pacer, retirement was a sudden decision that took just a moment, but, in Tendulkar's case, he believes, it must have been difficult to give up after a 24-year career.

“When I retired, I woke up one morning and knew I had had enough. It was that simple. I made the announcement that day. So it is different for everyone as everyone has different interests in life; some want to hang on to cricket as long as they can and others want to explore other parts of life. I was the latter.

“In Sachin’s case, the decision is his; so if he has made it, it must be the right time. After all, he has given his all for so long.” Lee added.


Photographs: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT

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Scoring century against Merv Hughes & Co. special

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Manu Shankar

Terming him the most influential batsman after Don Bradman, Lee said, “He certainly has carried the game in India time and again; his influence over so long is amazing. It’s his skill that makes him supremely confident, and even as an opposition bowler, attractive to watch bat!.”

His best Tendulkar moment?

“I loved seeing him walk off after being dismissed!

"But, seriously though, I think watching tapes of him as a child, facing Merv Hughes and Co. and scoring a century. He was amazing that day!"


Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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'Tendulkar doesn't give an inch'

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Manu Shankar

Lee pointed out that Tendulkar's longevity is certainly the best part of his glorious career, and other cricketers fall way short on that aspect.

“I mean, people often ask me what I am most proud about of my career? I always say, longevity. Sachin puts us all to shame on that front. To perform so consistently for so long is a testament to his greatness,” he added.

The Indian Premier League, which started in 2008, brought the Aussie and Mumbai batsman closer. It was then that Lee realized Tendulkar is competitive both on and off the field as well. 

“One night we went to his go-karting circuit where he treated our race as the F1 world championship. No wonder why he was so good -- he doesn't give an inch!"

Will he watch Tendulkar's last Test at the Wankhede?

"If I could, I would -- along with most of the cricket world."


Image: Brett Lee and Sachin Tendulkar
Photographs: Tim Wimborne/Reuters

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