Greatness was not in short supply when Sachin Tendulkar and Glenn McGrath shared the stage at a pleasant function organised by the MRF Pace Foundation, here, on Friday.
Tendulkar visited the Foundation in the morning and spent time with the aspirants. With him were McGrath, Director of Coaching at the Foundation, and M. Senthilnathan, head coach.
In the afternoon, Tendulkar and McGrath spoke about the Foundation’s contribution in grooming pacemen who went on to excel in international cricket.
Tendulkar said, “MRF has been in existence for 28 years, which in itself is a great thing. In Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath it has found the right role models to guide the young pacemen.”
The maestro remembered, “I recall playing with Vivek Razdan [the first paceman from the MRF Pace Foundation to represent India] in the Test against Pakistan at Sialkot in 1989. It has been a long journey since. When it comes to producing pacemen for India, the first name that comes to mind is MRF.”
Tendulkar added, “Both Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan came from MRF. Srinath is the quickest fast bowler I have seen from India. And no one reverse-swung the ball better than Zaheer. The foundation continues to produce pacemen for India.
“There is more to pace bowling than just running in and bowling. A bowler’s run-up, his bowling action, the point of release, Lillee and McGrath worked on all these aspects. At the MRF, a lot of work is done on the technical and mental front. It’s a big learning experience.”
Tendulkar recollected travelling to the MRF Pace Foundation in 1987 to learn pace bowling only to be rightly advised by Lillee that he would be better off concentrating on his batting. The rest is history.
McGrath said the budding pacemen would have imbibed much from Tendulkar during their interaction with the maestro. “Tendulkar would have given them insight from a batsman’s perspective. They would have got to know the thought process of a batsman. The boys didn’t take their eyes off Tendulkar. They know there is no easy route to success. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Recalling trapping Tendulkar leg-before in controversial fashion in the 1999 Test at Adelaide, McGrath said, “In my mind it was out. Tendulkar might have a different view on it. It was a short ball, did not get up, Tendulkar ducked into it and was hit on the shoulder. I believed the delivery was going on to hit the stumps. It was a great challenge to bowl at Tendulkar. It was tough but that’s the reason you play international cricket.”
Rahul Mammen, Whole-time Director, MRF, said, “The Foundation intends to do whatever it takes to produce great pace bowlers for India.”
The programme was preceded by an audio-visual show highlighting the achievements of the foundation over the last 28 years.