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‘His presence a learning experience for youngsters’

Special Correspondent
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Adam Gilchrist.— Photo: PTI
Adam Gilchrist.— Photo: PTI

Has Sachin Tendulkar really contributed to the Indian team in his final few years?

Legendary Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist has got the best answer. “Sachin has been contributing to the Indian team, it is just not always about runs.

Ricky Ponting contributed well into the last three years of his career to the Australian team with just his presence,” said Gilchrist, paying tribute to Tendulkar on Tuesday.

“The learning effect, the education and knowledge he passes on to the young players (is huge).

“Sachin’s professionalism and his preparedness to be committed to what he was doing would have great effect.

“I am sure if you ask Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma what has been the most valuable part of them being around Sachin Tendulkar, him scoring a hundred or him being in the change rooms with them, I think being around with them would be what they’ll all agree on.”

According to Gilchrist, Tendulkar, who mastered the art of batting with his superb timing, had his timing right even as he decided to walk off the cricket field.

“It is perfectly in place, 200th Test on home ground (Wankhede Stadium). As usual, class timing!”

Gilchrist, here to promote the University of Wollongong (Australia) as its brand ambassador, said he would love to have Tendulkar at its campus to play a fund-raising event in which West Indian greats Viv Richards and Brian Lara took part last year.

“We had invited him, but he could not make it due to scheduling problems. Since now he has more free time, I will jump to take the chance.”

Re-living some Tendulkar memories as an opponent, Gilchrist joked, “Best memory was seeing him get out cheaply in the World Cup final in South Africa (in 2003).”

On a more serious note, he, however, rated Tendulkar’s 1999 Boxing Day century highly. “My first Test against Sachin was on Boxing Day in Melbourne in 1999.

“When we went out there it was quite dark, drizzling and cold, and the ball was moving around a lot.

Masterful innings

“It was Brett Lee’s Test debut and he was charged up, bowling at a high 150km mark with instant success.

“We had India in a bit of trouble, but Sachin played a masterful innings scoring a hundred (116) and keeping India in the fight.

“That innings stands out in my mind, it may not have been technically one of his best, but it showed that he was true class. He applied himself and executed his skills under extreme pressure.”

When the topic switched to the upcoming Ashes series down under, Gilchrist said the Aussies must have learnt a lot from their series defeat in England this year and would perform better.

“I think a lot has been expressed around Darren Lehmann coming in as coach, rightly or wrongly.

“But Darren is fantastic in bringing people together and creating an environment which everyone wants to be part of. So, the right environment is there and the right people are there to lay the foundation for them to play cricket.

“I expect England to be much improved. I think we will start second favourites.

“That does not mean that we do not have a chance to win the Ashes back,” said Gilchrist.

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