Great chance for Sachin Tendulkar to cash in on the best batting strip in Australia, says former curator Les Burdett
Six seasons ago, Brian Lara finished his innings in Australia with a knock of 226 here at the Adelaide Oval. Come Tuesday, Sachin Tendulkar will enter his final Test Down Under. Will Tendulkar enjoy an equally gratifying swansong? Will that correspond with the elusive 100th international century?
Besides bowing out of Australia on a high, Lara surpassed Allan Border's world record Test tally of 11,174 runs (at the time). Going into that match, Lara needed 213 runs to become the leading run-scorer in Tests. On the eve of the Test, former Adelaide Oval curator Les Burdett assured the Trinidadian great that he would get the record.
Brian Lara acknowledges the crowd after scoring a double century at
the Adelaide Oval on November 26, 2005. Pic/Getty Images
"On the eve of the Test match, Lara came and said hello. I said to him, 'I reckon there are 213 runs in there for you.' He laughed, before asking, 'you think so? I gave him a resounding 'yes'. He replied: "I'll buy you a beer if I get there'," Burdett told MiD DAY yesterday.
At stumps on Day One, Lara was unbeaten on 202, requiring a further 11 runs to get the record. "At the end of the Day Two, I walked into the dressing room and congratulated him. He took me to the bar across the ground and bought me a couple of beers. It was a touching moment when Richie Benaud presented Lara a memento
after the match. We are good friends till today," he said.
India's Sachin Tendulkar plays a wide ball on his way to 61 on the third day
of the Adelaide Test against Australia on December 12, 1999. PIC/AFP
Though Burdett is no longer in a position to give Tendulkar a batting beauty, he has a few words for the little master. "If I'd meet him right now, I'd wish him all the best. He's a classy man. He hasn't enjoyed as much success in Adelaide (as compared to Sydney). I have seen him being judged lbw when he ducked at a ball in Adelaide, 1999. That ball may have hit the stumps, but it was sad to see that.
"Adelaide will suit him as well as anywhere else in Australia. That's because the pitch is a batting beauty for at least two quarters of the Test match. There's every chance that the great man, the master of cricket, will get that record come Tuesday. Sir Don (Donald Bradman) lived in Adelaide for a long time. He would have loved to see Tendulkar get it there. I can sense it happening," added Burdett, who is in Sydney to prepare the pitch for the first T20 international between Australia and India at the ANZ Stadium on February 1.
Stuart MacGill, who conceded 40 runs off 48 balls to Lara's 226 in 2005-06, felt Tendulkar would have got it at Melbourne. "Geez, he's been batting superbly in this series. I thought he could have got it off his back (the 100th international ton) a few times already, but it's going to happen soon. What can I say about Lara? I've always said he's the most destructive batsman I've faced. That 226 was a special knock.
"There was a time when we all just stood back and saw his batting genius. The Adelaide Oval gave him a fitting send-off that day. If this is Tendulkar's last outing in Australia, it should be no different. Australian crowds will never get to see him again. That will be a shame," said the former Test leg-spinner.