Watching a duel between Glenn McGrath and Sachin Tendulkar can be an exhilarating experience. Hearing them talk about those famous battles is nothing less, especially if those hearing the two legends talk are trainees who have decided to make cricket their calling.
The overnight rain had dampened the mood of the trainees at the MRF pace foundation, after all the soggy pitch put paid to their hopes of a day’s practice. But to compensate for the training bit, and to ensure that learning doesn’t stop, the foundation had set up a surprise meeting with Tendulkar, who provided the trainees with a few tips on the mental preparation of the game.
The idea was to help seamers pick Tendulkar’s brain on how to crack into a batsman’s mind. Both McGrath and Tendulkar ensured the trainees benefit from their talks, which included examples of their personal battles during their playing days.
A trainee, who did not wish to be named, said Tendulkar advised them on how to plan their bowling during lean patches. “He said that a batsman and a bowler cannot perform well every day. As bowlers we have to figure out where the batsman is struggling and make sure we don’t let him easy. Similarly, if a batsman can’t figure out when a good bowler is struggling, he won’t be scoring any runs. So the trick is to play smart and make sure that you make the batsman play according to your plan,” the trainee said.
Tendulkar also praised the foundation’s efforts in producing fast bowlers for the country. “I have many bowlers in my mind who are a product of this institution and have gone on to become great bowlers. While I consider Javagal Srinath to be the fastest bowler that I have faced in India, Zaheer Khan is someone who has immensely benefitted from MRF. I remember I use to play him in club games. His application, approach and work ethic was commendable but I advised him to visit MRF. Once he returned from MRF, he was a transformed bowler who could bowl reverse swing with a lot more control and authority,” reminisced Tendulkar, who himself was the face of MRF a few years back.
Tendulkar also lauded McGrath’s style of coaching. “I remember as a batsman, on days when McGrath would not be bowling well, he used to be busy finding a solution to his problem. That is what a pacer should think about. Now that he is training pacers here, the trainees are going to benefit a lot from his knowledge. Once I remember he bowled six maidens at a trot to me and I was leaving every ball. I was expecting him that he would change his line so that I could benefit but he was persistent and expected me to commit a mistake. This is to say that we both played with each other’s psyche and that is what can help you stay at the international level,” Tendulkar said.