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Lillee rates Vishy higher than Sunny
August 02, 2003 17:41 IST
Aussie fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee does not think his contemporary record-breaking Indian rival Sunil Gavaskar had much quality, and surprisingly rates Gundappa Viswanath as the best batsman who played against Australia.
"I know he was a great batsman but I cannot rate him among the great batsmen I bowled against," says Lillee in his recently-released autobiography.
"I rated Gavaskar of medium quality only and I have not changed my mind," he wrote.
Lillee instead gives the pride of place to the stylish Viswanath, brother-in-law of Gavaskar.
Viswanath was the best batsman against Australia "who made runs against us and regularly at that", he says.
Both Gavaskar and Viswanath enjoyed a very good average against Australia. Viswanath averaged 53.03 from 18 matches, scoring 1538 runs with four centuries. Gavaskar scored 1550 runs at 51.66 with eight hundreds in 20 matches.
And when it comes to current batsmen, Lillee has no hesitation in putting Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the list.
"You don't really need to say much more than he is the 'Little Master'. He plays on all wickets against all sort of bowling and doesn't appear to have any weakness.
"He will be the first batsman in history to score a century of centuries in Test and ODI," predicts Lillee.
Lillee says he had first seen Tendulkar during a coaching stint in India. Watching him bat, he asked the head coach who this 14-year-old was, and much to his embarrassment was told that he had rejected him a couple of years earlier as a fast bowler.
The firebrand bowler, who never played in India but does visit the country often now because of his association with the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, says he was instrumental in changing the entire way in which fast bowlers were trained in India.
"When the pace foundation started there was no fast bowling history or base in India. Even Kapil Dev, a great swing bowler, was not genuinely fast," he wrote.
However, Kapil Dev is included in Lillee's list of great fast bowlers of his time.
Of Kapil he wrote: "A wily bowler with inswing and outswing and the slower ball, he was prepared to bowl 35-40 overs an innings to get his four or five wickets. He was not short of Richard Hadlee as a true professional."
On another great Indian bowler, Bishen Singh Bedi, Lillee says, "He was not a big turner but he used the angles and the crease, if they let him. Batsmen rarely got on top of Bish and he loved batsmen as much as I did. He treated Australian batsmen like a game, almost playing cat and mouse."
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