Q. Why didn't India do well here?
A. I expected people like Ramesh and Ganguly to get more runs. I don't know whether it was a question of mental toughness or the lack of it. But I always felt India were going into the Test series with two bowlers short. Apart from Srinath, Prasad and Kumble, who do you have? Even if you include Ajit, that's not the kind of attack to get Australia out. And where have all the spinners gone? What's happened to all the Prasannas. Anil is no big spinner of the ball.
Q. How do you rate Glenn McGrath?
A. He is the best bowler in the world with regards to maintenance of length and line. He is the best fast bowler to the left-handers. He has been picking up wickets off his off-stump line which is backed by the best fielding side in the world. With people like Waugh and Warne in the slips, he has an advantage. Donald is quicker, but his fitness is suspect. Walsh is also a good bowler.
Q. Do you think Lara is past his prime?
A. Its up to him. The problem seems to be in the composition of the West Indian side. From what I understand, they have had some terrible times. The players, I hear, are saying that they don't want to work hard. It seems that there is a lot of player influence going on. They have some fine players like Adams, Walsh and Ambrose. Then there are Dillon and Powell. To me there is something wrong when players of that calibre cannot combine well.
Q. Are you surprised that West Indian cricket is on the decline?
A. I am very surprised that despite having so much talent, they were thrashed in South Africa. The South Africans are such a different side with so much discipline. Look at Lance Klusener. He goes there and scores a hundred at number eight. And he can take a bagful of wicket as well. They are a committed lot. You have to take your hat off to people like Cronje, Kallis, Rhodes and Klusener.
Q. Were you satisfied with Tendulkar's batting here?
A. You can see class with every stroke. But I think the problem Sachin has got is the same which Peter May had. May was an extremely determined and dedicated sort of individual who succeeded in the most adverse of conditions. People should be able to bat with the same kind of determination and concentration. The way Rahul Dravid and Ramesh got out, you will tell yourself that surely Sachin will not get out like this. Why is it that these players cannot apply themselves like Sachin does? You must remember that this is not a question of the batsman's attitude, but of the bowlers too. For example, we were playing in Adelaide in 1954-55 and we needed to win the Test to clinch the series. The last day came along and Neil Harvey was batting when Australia were 40 for three with Bob Appleyard taking three wickets. Everybody said the wicket was going to take turn. And Appleyard and Wardle would bowl Australia out. But they did not get to bowl. Statham and I bowled them out. Why? Because Len Hutton was shrewd enough to realise that during the preceding games of the series, his pace attack had established a supremacy over the opposition.
Sachin should have batted at number three. If he is the key player, he should have set the standards. From Test one. You build a side around yourself being slightly defensive. If India had good defensive players, they would have done better. You never saw Len Hutton play a ball he did not have to play. He let them go all day. The problem with the Indians was that they played some poor shots. It may have been a culmination of lack of mental toughness and skill. The Indian batsmen were not willing to build an innings.
Q. Do you keep in touch with Sir Don Bradman?
A. I have not seen him for a long time. I know him and he is a very private person. And I do not intrude on anyone's privacy. He does call up some of the friends I speak to. He is a good friend of Sam Loxton. I am told he is not very well at the moment.
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