Australian great Steve Waugh has referred to the Indian maestro as the `(Don) Bradman of our times'.
Some of the world’s greatest cricketers have heaped praise on Sachin Tendulkar as he reaches another milestone in his career with former Australian skipper Steve Waugh paying him the ultimate tribute by calling him the “Bradman of our times“.
A day before completing 20 years of international cricket, Tendulkar’s peers doffed their hats to the batting genius, recalling their association with him.
“The last time I watched Sachin was last week when he was on his way to a spectacular 175 and once again I felt that I was watching a player who comes but once in a century. It can be said that he is the Bradman of our times and I do feel privileged to have played a lot of cricket against him,” Waugh said in his tribute.
Considered a ruthless and aggressive captain, Waugh said even he had a nightmarish time setting his fielders whenever Tendulkar marched in to the crease.
“Sachin always brought with him an amazing sporting presence. It was a captain’s nightmare to set a field for him when he was in full flow. It was akin to getting stuck in a tornado - the noise made it impossible to communicate with the fielders.
“The bowlers looked demoralized and you could sense that Sachin himself was delighted at the disarray he created in the opposition. Whether in India or elsewhere, there were always enough fans to create a deafening din whenever he was at his best,” he said in an article.
The man who called sledging mental disintegration, Waugh said the tactic never really worked in Tendulkar’s case.
“On his day Sachin could take a game away from under your nose very quickly. His uncanny ability to find gaps, his running between the wickets and his sheer presence at the wicket was unsettling for the opposition.
“Sachin rarely got into verbal duels and soon we too realised that sledging him only strengthens his concentration and resolve. No wonder then that some of the most talkative Australians went quiet when Sachin was in the middle.”
Waugh also lauded the way Tendulkar conducted himself off the field and said he admired the composure with which the Indian handled expectations of a cricket mad nation.
“His innate decency as always shone through his ruthlessness on the field. For most of his career, he has wanted to dominate the bowlers and stamp his supremacy on the opposition. He has always conducted himself exceptionally in public light which must not be easy.
“I know that Sachin has learnt to embrace the pressures and expectations that 1.2 billion fans place on him. He seems to thrive on their goodwill and has rarely mentioned it as a burden,” he said.
Former West Indies captain and batting legend Vivian Richards said there are few better role models in modern cricket than Tendulkar.
“When he is in full flow, the mild mannered boyish cricketer can look extremely intimidating. If there is a resonance, I find of myself in his batting, it is in that intent that he communicates,” Richards said.
Comparing Tendulkar and Brian Lara, Richards said, “If I were to make a distinction between Brian and Sachin, it would be to point that Sachin was a more committed individual. He was more consistent in his commitment to the team. Sachin is also the more disciplined cricketer between the two and perhaps that is why he is still around, 20 years after his international career.”
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan said Tendulkar is way ahead of contemporaries like Inzamam-ul-Haq when it comes to keeping himself focussed on the game.
“Over the years Sachin has remained remarkably consistent and has more records than anybody I can remember. His talent and versatility are unquestioned which is why the only question that rankles is why he did not win enough games for his team?
“Very often he has taken his team to the brink of a famous win before getting out. If there is one area Sachin is ahead of his contemporaries, it is focus. Inzamam-ul-Haq was possibly more gifted but Sachin was more successful due to his commitment and focus.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly said Tendulkar’s ability to adapt to the varying conditions was his biggest strength.
“His biggest strength as a batsman is his adaptability. And that is something really amazing, something so special,” he said.
Former Pakistan players also paid glowing tributes to Sachin Tendulkar, describing the champion batsman as a true ambassador of the game.
Tendulkar has been the face of Indian cricket since his Test debut as a 16-year old against Pakistan at the National stadium here in 1989 .
And former Pakistan captain and batting great Javed Miandad said he always advises the youngsters to follow in the footsteps of Tendulkar.
“We had a fearsome pace attack in Imran (Khan), Wasim (Akram), Waqar (Younis) and Saleem Jaffer but what is still etched in memory is the way he played his first ball in Test cricket.
“It was a very pacy delivery from Waqar and this young fellow came on the front foot to drive the ball. It was confidence personified. We all knew we would be hearing a lot about this youngster in years to come,” Miandad said of the batting great.
“He loves cricket and with his hardwork, focus and commitment he has truly become an outstanding ambassador for the sport at a time when commercialism is so rampant,” Miandad said.
Former Pakistan legspinner Abdul Qadir, whose duel with a young Tendulkar in an ODI at Peshawar in the 89’ series is part of cricketing folklore, said the champion batsman was far from finished and would continue to break many more records.
He said Tendulkar had outshone his illustrious compatriots with his sheer greatness and love for the game.
“I think Tendulkar has outdone all the other greats with his hunger for the game which is amazing,” Qadir said.
Tendulkar hit Qadir for three sixes in an over in the Peshawar game at a time when the legspinner was at his peak.
“That was a time when I was at my best and even the best batsmen had second thoughts coming out to hit me. I remember I kept on goading him to hit me and he took the challenge and came down to strike me cleanly. It was amazing. I knew instantly this was someone special,” he recalled.
Another former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said Tendulkar was a gentleman personified who never allowed fame to get over him.
“What has impressed me the most about Tendulkar all these years is his humble and simple nature. I never saw him ever let the fame and adulation he enjoys get to his head,” Inzamam said.
“Whenever we played India we always knew Tendulkar was the key wicket for us it would always be a psychological blow for the Indians. His greatness is depicted in his outstanding statistics. I think it was largely due to the confidence and poise he brought to the Indian team that it had produced some many top batsmen in the modern era,” he added.
Another former captain and ex-wicketkeeper Rashid Latif said Tendulkar was a role model for the gentleman’s game.
“I had heard a lot of about him when I first played against him but what struck me was his simple nature. I don’t recall a match in which I saw him being over-aggressive, brash or sledge someone. That is what makes him such a great cricketer. He uses aggression to his own benefit,” he said.
Former wicketkeeper batsman Moin Khan said Tendulkar was a perfectionist who would be hard to replace in world cricket.
“There was perfection in his batting then and it is the same now. Obviously he is a human being and he has also failed many times but overall I don’t think I have seen a bigger batsman then him in my time,” Moin said.