Sachin Tendulkar the best batsman I have played against: Ricky Ponting
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"I felt Sachin was the best player I played against, and that's coming from more of a captain's point of view as well, knowing he had so much success against us in our conditions and their conditions," Ponting said at his retirement press conference after the lost final Test against South Africa here.
Tendulkar has always been highly regarded by the Australians with greatest batsman in the game's history Sir Donald Bradman saying in 1996 that the Indian was the closest somebody came to emulating his batting style.
"Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player (Tendulkar) is playing much the same as I used to play," Bradman had said.
Tendulkar has an impressive record against Australia compiling 3438 runs in 35 Tests for an average of 57.30. He has scored 11 Test centuries and 15 half centuries against
them. In ODIs, he accumulated 3077 runs in 71 matches for an average of 44.59.
Ponting also praised West Indian batting great Brian Lara, saying he gave him sleepless nights before matches.
"I probably lost more sleep on the eve of games against Lara, because I knew he could singlehandedly win games for his team. The way I judge players has always been on their ability to win games, and win games by themselves," he added.
"Lara could certainly do that and he did it probably more than what Sachin's done for India. It's hard to separate the class of player -- you've got to put Kallis in that bracket as well.
"You put his wickets on top of what he's done with the bat. He came out the other day to bat and I looked at the board and he was averaging 57 in Test cricket. That's remarkable considering the amount he's had to bowl and all that sort of stuff," the former captain said.
Ponting said it was great to have played in an era with so many outstanding batsmen around.
"I've been pretty blessed to play in the era I've played with so many great batsmen, and if my name gets mentioned among them, then that's great," he added.
On to the bowlers and the 37-year-old batsman, who is behind just Tendulkar in the all-time scorers' list, felt feisty Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh troubled him quite a bit through his career.
"He got me out a lot of times, and caused me a lot of grief," he said.
Among other bowlers, Ponting said West Indian Curtly Ambrose along with Pakistan's Wasim Akram had his measure all through.
"I think Curtly Ambrose and Wasim Akram were probably the two outstanding quicks that I faced, and for different reasons. Ambrose for his ability to just make you feel like you couldn't score off him for long periods of time, never felt like he was going to bowl you a bad ball," he said.
"Akram for the exact opposite, you could get a few runs off him, but you just knew there was an unplayable ball around the corner, be it with an old ball or with a new ball. And thankfully for me I probably got both of those guys towards the end of their careers as well," he added.