Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar today rated the Australian series of 1999 as the toughest in his 24-year long glorious international cricket career.”The toughest series without any doubt was in 1999 when we went to Australia and they had a great side. In a team of 11, you had literally seven to eight match winners and the rest were also very good. That was a team which dominated world cricket for a number of years. They had their own style of playing, very aggressive,” he said at a promotional event here.The Steve Waugh-led side dominated the three-match series, handing India a 3-0 whitewash.
The batting legend added that other teams admired the Australian style of play and wanted to emulate them.”I still remember in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney, the brand of cricket they played, impressed the whole world. Everyone wanted to play that brand of cricket. Though we all respect our styles of playing, but everyone felt that the brand of cricket they played was special.”They were able to do that consistently. It was a world class team,” he said.
Picking the longest format of the game as his favourite, Tendulkar said, “If I have to compare Test cricket and ODI cricket, without any doubt, the greatest satisfaction is when you do well in Test cricket and you do something special for the team.”
Having had many encounters against world class bowlers in his over two-decade long career, the 44-year said that he did not relish facing former Protea captain Hansie Cronje. “From 1989 when I started playing there would be at least 25 world class bowlers. But someone I didn’t enjoy batting against was Hansie Cronje. For some reason I got out and over a period of time I realised that I am better off being at the non-striker’s end. “I would talk to whoever was (the other batsman) on pitch I would say if (Allan) Donald or (Shaun) Pollock is bowling from other end I will manage but take more strike of Hansie,” he said.
The former India captain said he realised the importance of nutrition as a 13-year old when he got out after lunch because he didn’t have enough energy to carry on playing. “It was the biggest lesson of my life. When I got back to the dressing room, the first thing I asked was I need something to eat. I decided from that day that this should not be the reason for me to get out,” Tendulkar said. “Invariably, when you don’t focus on nutrition, before losing the game, the first thing you lose is concentration. I started focusing on my nutritional intake along with my mental preparation and physical preparation,” he added.