Abu Dhabi: Sachin Tendulkar can come only second behind legendary Don Bradman in the list of all-time greatest cricketers, feels former Australia captain Steve Waugh.
“Don Bradman is the greatest, there is no debate. Don is the number one and then come the rest. And among the rest, Tendulkar probably is as good as anyone. So legitimately he may be the second best cricketer to have played the game,” Waugh said.
“But then people will say the same for Gary Sobers and WG Wells too. So its difficult to say,” added Waugh, who is here as a member of the Laureus Sports Academy.
Waugh also said it was dangerous to see Test cricket losing out quality fast bowlers to Twenty20 format. “It is dangerous for Test cricket that we are losing the quicks. It is a Twenty20 influence. Fast bowlers definitely have a lot of stress and doing this is very demanding. I think they realise that they have few years of cricket in them. They get three times more money by bowling one-tenth overs in T20. So we had (Andrew) Flintoff, Brett (Lee) and (Shane) Bond deciding not to play Test which is a shame,” he said.
Two-time World Cup winning captain Waugh said India and Australia will start the favourites in the ODI World Cup next year, which will be held in Indian sub-continent. “Australia have very good record. India is also very hard to beat in India. So they will be the favourites. Then there is also New Zealand. I think, there are probably five teams capable of winning the World Cup but India and Australia will be the favourites,” he said.
Asked whether Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men were capable of retaining their number one Test team tag for long, Waugh said, “I don’t think anyone will hold the number one ranking (for long) because we have three formats of the game. With niggling injuries and so many tours, it is very difficult to be consistent. May be they can hold on to Test ranking but it is very difficult to dominate all the formats of the game.”
Waugh also has apprehension about the Decision Referral System and thinks still there is place for improvement. “I’m at times very confused about it. I was initially against it but later I read about it and saw decisions going right but for the last 12 months some of the decisions didn’t seem right, which showed the technology is not completely full-proof yet,” he said.
“The technology have to be better than what it is now or may be it could go back to the umpires. They could ask for 2-3 referrals rather than the players. But then some will argue that we don’t have enough good umpires to ask for a referral all times. So we have to get the umpires to the standard of Simon Taufel, who is very confident,” Waugh said.
Another incident which has grabbed the attention of Waugh is the rise of Afghanistan who has qualified for this year’s Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies. “It is a great sporting story. It is a potential movie. It is a fairy tale, the story of the year. Players learning cricket in the refugee camps and doing so well. I think with the T20 World Cup coming up, this will be one of the future stories of the event,” he said.