Sydney: Sachin Tendulkar's mental strength makes him a legendary batsman, and the 'modern-day Don Bradman' will get to his elusive 100th international century in the second Test against Australia starting in Sydney on Tuesday, believes former pacer Stuart Clark.
"What will make the Australian bowlers even more wary in this Test is that Tendulkar has a definite affinity with the SCG. I see no reason why he will not bring up his elusive 100th international hundred in the 100th Test match at the grand old ground," Clark wrote in his column for Sydney Morning Herald.
"For the past 20 years, the modern-day Don Bradman has plundered attacks around the world. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were no match for him. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis did their best for little reward. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath toiled hard against him for the same result. The reality is that Tendulkar is simply too good."
"The great ability of Tendulkar is his ability to make the field move around and to toy with a bowler or frustrate a captain. As a bowler, you make the decision to bowl either slightly straighter with another man on the onside or to bowl slightly wider with a heavier offside field. But against Tendulkar there is a problem - he has great wrists and can hit the same delivery to three different places," he added.
Clark said the opposition bowlers are always in for a real challenge whenever Tendulkar walks into the ground.
"When he walks through the gate and the ground announcers invite the crowd to 'welcome Sachin Tendulkar', you know as a bowler you are in for a real challenge. You ask yourself how can this man who stands just over five feet tall be so good? How does this little man have the ability to treat me with such disdain? But then you remember he is not called the 'Little Master' for nothing," said Clark.
"So what makes this modern-day maestro the legend that he is? To begin with, most of the great batsmen are small in stature. Bradman, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Tendulkar are less than average height."
"Many observers believe this allows them to judge the length of a delivery quicker, which then allows them to make a quicker decision as to whether to go under the short ball, take a stride forward or leave the ball if it is not going to hit the stumps," said Clark, who retired from international cricket in May last year.
The former Australian quickie said that Tendulkar's mental toughness always intrigued him.
"It must come from a genuine love of batting, but I also believe it is because out in the middle is the place where Tendulkar truly feels comfortable, where he can get away from the millions of adoring fans, the sponsors and the managers, and just do what he loves doing. It is the only place where he can find peace."
"Tendulkar also has the concentration span of 10 men. If you look at him out in the middle, there are two things you will notice. Firstly, you will see that he still wears pads with buckles - this is odd but it is also a sign of just how long he has been playing."
"Secondly, you will see his eyes. They will give you the sense of a man who has no other thoughts in his head other than the job at hand. 'Watch the ball' and 'play each ball on its merits', the mantras of the great batsmen, are phrases which may as well be tattooed on the inside of Tendulkar's head, and you can see it in his eyes," said Clark.