Mumbai, Mar 5: Retired Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, who has waged many a stirring battle against Sachin Tendulkar, has rated the Indian legend a notch above West Indies great Brian Lara, thus singing a different tune to that of veteran South Africa all-rounder Jaques Kallis.
Asked to compare the two great batsmen, Lee said, "I have to say Sachin, because he has that aura when he comes out to bat," he said at a media conference here.
"I have waged many a battle against him and was lucky enough to get him out more number of times than anyone else in the world. But I was also on the receiving end of many hundreds - like the hundred (116) he got at Melbourne in 1999 and the many hundreds he has scored against us all around the world. When you play against Sachin you somehow (have to) find a way to give that little bit extra," said Lee.
"When I played my first Test at Melbourne as a 23-year-old fresh faced kid from the bush, I am looking at this guy resembling Sachin Tendulkar. He was tiny, his bat was this big," said the 37-year-old former pace bowler, who grabbed 690 wickets in Tests and ODIs combined.
"I thought to myself 'this is the guy I want to play against'. I was pinching myself it was not a dream. I thought I can ask him for an autograph rather than bowl to him. It's strange when you get to play against someone who was the hero as you were growing up.
"It's a huge opportunity and I had a lot of opportunities to play against him," added Lee.
Lee's assessment of Tendulkar was at variance with that of Kallis, who two days ago, was quoted as saying that Lara was the best batsman he has ever played against.
Kallis, one of the greatest all-rounders to have graced the game, however, described Tendulkar's achievements as incredible.