Mumbai: Terming retiring Sachin Tendulkar’s batting technique as the best in the world, legendary West Indian cricketer Brian Lara on Tuesday said if he had a son he would have asked him to learn from the videos of the Indian great to excel in the sport.
While praising Tendulkar’s impeccable longevity, Lara said it would have been hard for the champion batsman to fulfil the huge expectations of his fans during his two-and-a-half decade career. “His longevity is amazing. He started couple of years ahead of me and ended six after I retired. These 24 years are testimony to his skills, dedication and fitness level. His zeal while playing for India was simply amazing. I know he has had a tough playing for 1.3 billion people,” Lara said at an event ‘Salam Sachin’, organised by India Today Group in honour of the legendary batsman.
Lara felt that Tendulkar deserved every bit of adulation before his final hurrah at his home ground at the Wankhede Stadium here. “The felicitations for him are much deserved. He has sacrificed a lot for the nation and dedicated his entire life to the game,” Lara insisted.Asked about a perfect timing for a cricketer to retire, the left-handed batsman said: “Retirement is not something you look forward to. It is not planned. In my case when I thought I had nothing more to offer to West Indian cricket I made the decision to leave.”
On his favourite moment while competing against Tendulkar, Lara recalled the 1997 Barbados Test when he, as a leader, was successful in executing a strategy to get the Indian out. “India needed just 120 to chase in the fourth innings at Barbados. We had planned to get Tendulkar out while playing behind the wicket – not presenting the full bat face. We blocked the mid-on and mid-off and forced him to play with half bat. It took an out-swinger from Ian Bishop to induce an edge from Tendulkar and I caught the ball at slips. We folded the Indian batting for just 81 that day,” he said.
Lara rated Tendulkar’s 241 against Australia as the Indian’s best innings. “I have the greatest respect for Sachin’s double hundred at Sydney (in 2004). He was struggling in the series and was getting out while playing square of the wicket. But in that knock he curbed his instincts and played with a straight bat. To do that for such a long speaks volume about his ability,” he said.
On Tendulkar not being able to replicate his batting success as leader of the side, Lara said: “Sometimes being the best player in the team doesn’t make you a successful captain. In U-14, club cricket the best player gets the opportunity to captain the side but that is not the case in international sport. It is very hard to get everybody to gel together and perform as a unit. After a loss there would be fingers pointed at you.”