Lillee takes credit for Tendulkar

Published: Friday, November 9, 2001, 23:51 [IST]
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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Sydney: Australian fast bowling great Dennis Lillee says he was responsible for turning Sachin Tendulkar into the world's foremost batsman instead of a fast bowler. Australian captain Steve Waugh on Wednesday acknowledged Lillee's role when he joined Tendulkar in signing a bat sponsorship deal with a company, which also supports Lillee's pace bowling foundation in India."Dennis discouraged him (Tendulkar) from fast bowling and he took up batting which wasn't a good thing for world cricket, particularly Australia, after what he did to us last season," said Waugh.

Lillee revealed how he had been less than impressed when Tendulkar first appeared at his Madras foundation with fast-bowling ambitions. "At 12 years of age, he and about another 150 came along for the first or second session that I had there," said Lillee on Wednesday."I didn't know who he was, he was just a young kid coming along like every other one, I didn't know. And he was one of my rejects in the first lot, I said something along the lines of 'I think you should stick to batting' or something like that and he did - and did he stick!"The next time I saw him was about two years later.

He in fact came along as a batsman. And there was this young lad, a little short, thin young lad in the nets smashing my fast bowlers back over their head and smashing them to the boundary and all these things I was telling them to do weren't happening."And I sort of looked and I thought 'Gee, this kid is pretty good' and I called (coach) T A Sekar and I said 'Come to the back of the nets, have a look at this kid, he looks fantastic'.

"I sat there for a while and I said 'Geez, what's this kid's name?'. He (Sekar) said 'you rejected him', I said 'No way'."He said 'No no, as a bowler' and I said 'What's his name?', he said 'Sachin Tendulkar' and I said, 'this kid could be anything'."He was 14 I think. He travelled across from Bombay (to Madras) just to be a batsman in the nets and get some practice. Did he get practice!"

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