A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: ‘It wasn’t until I really played against him that I understood that there was a tiger that lay within him’, says Matthew Hayden

Hayden had not heard of Tendulkar’s name until the early 1990s

Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden has praised India batsman Sachin Tendulkar for his longevity and admitted that “it wasn’t until I really played against him that I understood that there was a tiger that lay within him”.

Hayden also noted that he first caught wind of Tendulkar’s name in the early 1990s, but did not imagine him to be so “slight” for a man that an entire nation was buzzing about.

“I probably first heard Sachin’s name in the early ’90s,” Hayden said. “The one thing that always stuck in my mind about Sachin was that his size never ever matched his status.

“He was an incredibly slight man for someone who was such a huge brand within the game. It wasn’t until I really played against him that I understood that there was a tiger that lay within him: he was a very competitive little man.”

Hayden also reminisced about his favourite Tendulkar moment, which, believe it or not, came against his own team during their tour of India in 2008.

“My favourite Sachin moment was at the Mohali Test where he broke the world record for the most number of Test runs,” Hayden said. “There was so much excitement around the ground that the fireworks actually stopped play for the better part of 20 minutes, whilst the smoke cleared away.”

Former Australia head coach John Buchanan noted that there were a lot of similarities between Tendulkar and recently retired Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.

“Statistically, Tendulkar has a better record than Ricky Ponting,” Buchanan said. “If Tendulkar is far more orthodox, far more classical and technical, Ricky is a little more unorthodox.”

However, Buchanan was unable to name the superior player amongst the two legends.

“Sachin definitely is a better player of spin bowling, more so on the challenging and spin-friendly wickets of the sub-continent,” he said. “I would have loved to see Ricky’s domination over spinners in the same way as Sachin’s, and vice versa, the Master’s audacity on the front foot like the Tasmanian’s against the best fast bowlers.

“Only if these two qualities were exchanged in their respective games could either of them have bettered Sir Bradman’s Test average.”

But, Buchanan hinted that Tendulkar’s mental focus may have been slightly better than that of Ponting’s.

“Sachin has an exceptional ability to relax and can switch on and switch off with ease without any fuss,” he added. “To get away from cricket and can come back recharged year after year for decades has been really marvellous. The Master has been the greatest exponents of doing that.”

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