Old foes: Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. Photo: Cole BennettsThey are universally regarded as two of the greatest cricketers of all time but Sachin Tendulkar says when he and Shane Warne visited Sir Donald Bradman for his 90th birthday they were so daunted they couldn’t decide who should speak first.
“I remember Warnie was with me in the car and we were discussing who was going to ask the first question,” Tendulkar said on Wednesday night. “I said, ‘You are from Australia, so you should start’. And he was like, ‘No, you’re a batsman, so you can relate to him much better than what I can’.”
It turns out Warne was probably right. Test cricket’s world record run scorer was speaking in a visit back to what he declared his favourite ground, inducted alongside Steve Waugh as the latest Bradman Foundation honourees at a gala dinner at the SCG.
The Indian maestro scored three centuries in five Tests at the ground at an average of 157, none better than the unbeaten 241 in 2004 in what also happened to be Waugh’s final Test.
“The SCG is my favourite ground. I have always maintained that. It brings back all the memories,” Tendulkar said, speaking publicly in Australia for the first time in six years. “I was just outside in the car and I said it feels great to be back. It’s been a very social venue to me. Right back to 1991, which was the first time I played here.
“[It’s] just the feel of the ground. Whenever I walked in I felt I could go on and on batting. I just enjoyed the atmosphere, and the pavilion especially. It’s a fabulous pavilion with a lot of history. It is the heritage and the impact all the players have left on this ground. Performing against Australia always gave me a lot of satisfaction because I knew if you perform against the leading side that everyone takes notice of your performance. It is a different kind of satisfaction.”
Waugh, describing Tendulkar as “probably the modern-day Bradman”, was also honoured at a venue in which he enjoyed no shortage of highlights, in particular his final-ball ‘Perfect Day’ century against England in 2003. “It was one of those balls where it just came off the bat perfectly, it didn’t feel like I hit it hard, and all of a sudden it was like someone turned the volume up,” the former Australian captain said. “It was an amazing experience.”
It was Tendulkar who took the catch at the SCG a year later that spelled the end of Waugh’s Test batting career.
Tendulkar said there was a strong mutual admiration between him and Bradman when they met 16 years ago. “One thing was just to be able to meet the great man but also to know the funnier side of him,” Tendulkar said of their meeting at his Adelaide home in 1998. “I asked him a question: ‘what would you have averaged in today’s cricket?’ He thought about it and said ‘Maybe 70’. The natural reaction was ‘why only 70 and not 99?’ He said, ‘C’mon, that’s not bad for a 90-year-old man’.”