Brett Lee writes about bowling to Sachin Tendulkar

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In a recent article written for Sportsta.co, former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee expressed his admiration and respect for his former rival and good friend Sachin Tendulkar. Lee wrote at length about the thrill of playing against Tendulkar during his career, the respect the master blaster has in the cricketing universe and the things young fast bowlers can learn by watching the batting legend at work.

Lee calls Tendulkar as cricket’s biggest superstar and writes that just like Jacques Kallis is rated as the best all-rounder of all-time, Tendulkar should be rated as the best batsman to have ever played the game.

“Whenever I’m asked to recall what it was like to bowl to Sachin Tendulkar . . . and that could be a hundred times a week . . . it crosses my mind to reply there were times when it felt as though I should’ve walked onto the ground with my autograph book in one hand and a pen in the other. Sachin was . . . is . . . a genuine superstar.”

“I’ll always remember from our duels in India is the electricity that crackled around the ground whenever Sachin batted because rather than bowling against one person it felt as though I was taking on 100,000”

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The article spoke about various things starting from the ‘Lessons he learnt from Sachin Tendulkar.’ Lee describes how he felt every time he played against the batting legends.The pace machine says that the competition was always high whenever Tendulkar was in the middle which taught him to back his training and instincts.

“If any professional athlete ever says they never had a doubt or second-guessed their ability, they’re probably telling you a fib. There were some battles against Sachin when demons of doubt danced about in my head, but I expelled them by being true to myself. I learnt to ignore them by backing myself to succeed. My training helped me a lot in those instances because I trained the way I wanted to play, and that developed what sports psychologists like to call ‘instinct’.”

“I also believe knowing he was about also helped heighten my competitiveness, I trained with the desire to be able to say that I was good enough to dismiss him. Sachin Tendulkar taught me plenty. He taught me to back myself while that challenge I embraced to get him out definitely helped to make me a better bowler and competitor.”

Lee also discussed the most frequent he and other top fast bowler of his era had to answer – Who was the hardest batsman to bowl at? Lee picked Sachin Tendulkar ahead of Brian Lara – as his toughest competitor.

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I reckon the most frequent question blokes such as Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shoaib Akhtar and myself would be asked is to name which batsman was the hardest to combat – Sachin or the West Indian maestro, Brian Lara. I rate Sachin as the tougher nut to crack, citing his longevity – he played 200 Tests and 463 One Day Internationals – as reasonable justification.

“You see, pace was my biggest asset against Sachin because I knew that was the best thing I had to punch through his defence. The record books note that sometimes that happened, while, as you’d expect, there was other occasions when it didn’t.”

Not many tried to sledge the master on-field. There were mainly two reasons – his ability and the respect. Lee says that he doesn’t remember anyone trying to sledge the Sachin Tendulkar. The reasons that most of them refrained to do so in order to escape becoming the victim of his run making ability.

“It says a lot for Sachin’s standing that I can’t recall anyone trying to get under his skin by sledging him, and there were a few good reasons for that. First and foremost he was considered cricket royalty and commanded universal respect. Secondly, and, just as importantly, I think his opponents had a deep-seeded fear that to poke a stick at him would end painfully – on the scoreboard.”

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“The great man would be a mean poker player because he was expressionless while batting. There may’ve been the occasional smirk when he hit a four off his toes, and while that told me he was up for the challenge the slight smirk was about the extent of his emotion out in the middle.”

Lee also talked from his experience and gave some valuable lessons to other learnt playing alongside Sachin Tendulkar.

“It’s pointless trying to blast out a Tendulkar’s stumps every single ball – and while that’s the dream – the reality is you must work on a plan because a batsman of Tendulkar’s class has no time restraint in Test cricket, he can wait on you for the whole day.”

“If a fast bowler is sending down absolute lightning a Tendulkar will tell himself to grind out the next 45 minutes. He’ll know even if he only scores one or two runs the bowler will be exhausted after going flat-chat for five or six overs. He’ll know if he gets through that he’ll be able to take advantage of the part-timer who’ll be thrown into the attack.”

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