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  • Dear Sachin

      Cricket legends hail the Little Master

    I was fielding in the covers when Tendulkar came out to bat in his debut Test at Karachi. I still remember Waqar Younis was at his peak form at that time. Tendulkar tried to drive Waqar through the covers off his very first ball in Test cricket but was beaten all ends up. But I walked to captain Imran Khan and told him 'this kid looks very good' and Imran agreed with me.

    Then came the one-day international at Peshawar, which was reduced due to rain. When Tendulkar came at the crease I told him that not to get bogged down against me and he should try and hit me at all parts of the Arbab Niaz Stadium. It was not that I bowled badly but it was due to his ability that he hit me for I think 24 odd runs in one over.

    Then it became a routine for me to chat with young Tendulkar whenever we met in the nets or in the hotel. I used to give him tips how to play spinners and I must admit he was a good listener and always tried to learn. After the home series we went to Sharjah and although Tendulkar didn't score that many runs against my bowling I gave him tips off the field whenever we had time.

    His shot selection is superb, he just lines you up and can make you look very silly. Everything is right in his technique and judgement. There isn't a fault there. He is also a lovely guy, and over the years I've enjoyed some interesting chats with him… Sachin is in a different class to Lara as a professional cricketer. He is a model cricketer, and despite the intolerable pressures he faces back home, he remains a really nice guy… Sachin is also the best batsman in the world, pulling away from Brain Lara every year…

    We'd heard all about him modelling himself on Sunil Gavaskar, and he had the same neatness, the same time to spare, the same calmness - and a very heavy bat.

    I am very privileged to have played with him and seen most of the runs that he has scored. I am also extremely happy to have shared the same dressing room... He is a very reserved person and generally keeps to himself. He is very determined, committed and doesn't show too many emotions. He just goes about doing his job.

    First and foremost, Tendulkar is an entertainer and that for me is as important factor as any fact or figure. Too often boring players have been pushed forward as great by figures alone. For sheer entertainment, he will keep cricket alive.

    The thing I admire most about this man is his poise. The way he moves, elegantly without ever looking out of place in any condition or company, suggests his pedigree. I remember he had once come to New Delhi in the 1990s to collect his Arjuna Award (India's highest award to its top sportspersons) and he asked me if I would attend the function. He is a very sensitive human being….

    Sometimes you feel he really hasn't felt the kind of competition in the world his talent deserves. I would have loved to see him perform against top quality cricketers of the previous generation. It would really have brought out the best in him.

    You might pitch a ball on the off stump and think you have bowled a good ball and he walks across and hits it for two behind mid wicket. His bat looks so heavy but he just waves it around like it's a toothpick.

    Sachin is a genius. I'm a mere mortal.

    He is a tremendous cricketer. He is young and has got a lot of ability. He's got his own style. He has got the temperament for big cricket and I hope that he goes from strength to strength.

    For Sachin the balance is there. He is quick to complete his shot. He covers the crease much better than mere mortals.

    If I'm to bowl to Sachin, I will bowl with my helmet on. He hits the ball so hard.

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