Australian great Neil Harvey is confident Sachin Tendulkar will get a memorable reception at the SCG, irrespective of whether he scores his 100th ton or nought
AUSTRALIA'S golden great and a member of Sir Don Bradman's Invincible 1948 team, Neil Harvey is in prime position to be well and truly fortunate in cricketing terms. Harvey was part of an Australian team when Bradman scored his 100th first-class century - against Lala Amarnath's Indians in a tour game in 1947.
Today, he will make his way to the Sydney Cricket Ground in the hope of Tendulkar reaching his 100th international hundred at a ground where the Indian batting maestro averages 221.33 from seven visits to the crease in four Tests.
Neil Harvey with Sachin Tendulkar at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1992. Pic courtesy: The Sportstar
"I will go (to the SCG) and wish him well. He's probably been the best player since Bradman. Good luck to him. I just wouldn't like to see him go on for too long," Harvey (83) told MiD DAY from his Sydney residence yesterday.
"I know there is a lot going on in Tendulkar's mind. There are huge expectations from even the Australian crowds. He would be better off trying to play some shots and get on top of the bowling. I just love watching him play. Whatever happens... if he gets none or a hundred, he will get a standing ovation," said Harvey.
The former left-handed batting stalwart saw Tendulkar scoring the second of his 99 international centuries in the 1992 Sydney Test. It's been 20 years, but Harvey remembers it vividly. "I remember that knock (148 not out). Being so young (19), he had no fear in those days. He just played all the shots that he had available to him and annihilated our attack," said Harvey. Through his attack on the Australians, Tendulkar became the youngest Test centurion at the SCG.
"If you look at him now, he has quietened down a hell of a lot with his strokeplay and is not as adventurous as he used to be," said Harvey, who also counts himself fortunate to watch the little Indian's unbeaten 155 against the Australians at Chennai in 1998.
When Harvey spoke to this writer in March, he didn't think Tendulkar will make another tour to Australia, but he has, and is the only Indian to make five Test trips to Australia. "Yes, I'm a bit surprised he has made it," admitted Harvey but he didn't sound too confident of Tendulkar and the rest of the experienced (Aussies like to use the term ageing) batting line-up succeeding Down Under.
"I know he has a goal of reaching hundred international centuries and that's a decent aim, but a lot of blokes are playing for two long these days. Rahul Dravid is another one and VVS Laxman too. They are all sailing in the same boat.
Past success "They have had success here before but time marches on and it has caught up with some of them. It is going to be much more difficult in the rest of the series that it was in the previous ones," Harvey reckoned. He also felt Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey have over-stayed their time: "It is sad to see them not go out during their actual peak. Instead, they are lingering on, hoping to get a score."
Not a fan of limited overs cricket, Harvey said it annoys him to see all the ODI hundreds being added to Tendulkar's tally of international hundreds... "Bradman didn't have all this. He just had three-day, four-day and five-day games. He didn't have this one-day rubbish and 20-20 stuff. It just annoys me a bit to see that Tendulkar is compared to Bradman on this particular score."
Yet, he wishes that Tendulkar achieves his landmark hundred in Sydney. "He's been a great player over the years. It's going to be a long time before anyone who is as good as him comes along." Harvey should know. He figured in the same batting order as Bradman, battled against the all-round skills of Sir Garfield Sobers, selected the likes of Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh for Australia and played a significant role in the appointment of Ian Chappell as captain of Australia.