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“Tendulkar and Ponting are also greats but I thought Lara was a cut above them”
Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi has become the latest member of the cricketing community to join in the debate about whether West Indies legend Brian Lara was better than India veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Afridi noted that he believed Lara was a “class above” both Tendulkar and Ponting and was the “best batsman” he had ever seen.
“Lara was the best batsman I have seen in my entire career spanning 16 years,” Afridi said. “Personally I found him to be a class above the two other greats of this era, Tendulkar and (Ricky) Ponting.
“He was the most difficult batsmen I have bowled too in every format of the game. He could play and hit boundaries at will. Especially against the spinners he produced boundaries out of the hat. He was a superb player and I enjoyed watching him bat. At times I felt he was so good at playing spin that he could even bat against them blindfolded! Tendulkar and Ponting are also greats but I thought Lara was a cut above them.”
When asked about who he considered the best bowlers of his era to be, Afridi instantly said Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath and his long-time Pakistan team-mate Mohammad Asif.
“They were the only bowlers who I felt knew when they were going to bowl an inswinger or an outswinger and that is a big quality in any bowler,” Afridi said.
Since making his comeback against the West Indies, Afridi has been doing “self assessment therapy” on every match he plays.
“Now whenever I get out, I talk to myself and I curse myself for not finishing off a match if I am batting,” he said. “This self assessment therapy has helped me a lot.
“But now when I am batting I am eager to finish off matches myself. I keep on talking to myself and even if I get out, I keep analysing my my batting. I have seen the fate of some of our former greats and how they went out. I don’t want to go through that phase. I will know when the time is right for me to go (retire). Right now the time is good for me and I can carry on performing in Twenty20 and ODI cricket.”
The Pakistan all-rounder admitted that he had made more than a few mistakes in the past, but added that he had never abandoned his self-respect.
“I am that sort of a person if I feel I am not wanted or I don’t get along with someone I will not play,” he said. “I couldn’t get along with Waqar Younis when he was captain so I decided not to play and stepped aside.”
Having played under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq, Afridi noted that the 39-year-old was working wonders with the Pakistan team and leading them towards a brighter future.
“He is an excellent planner but unfortunately not everything you plan is executed all the time,” Afridi said. “And one can’t expect him to treat other players like schoolchildren.”