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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Smith: Tendukar inspired me


South Africa skipper Graeme Smith has said Sachin Tendulkar inspired him to become a cricketer after watching the batting maestro bat.

Smith was just 11 when Tendulkar first toured South Africa in 1992 after their readmission to international cricket and instantly became a fan.

"He (Tendulkar) is a world class player and a great ambassador for the game," Smith said at an official reception for the Indian cricket team Monday night.

"As a youngster I watched the games and that's where all my dreams started. You see the players (like Tendulkar) on TV and you think that I want to be like that one day, and here we are," he said.

Tendulkar, one short of 50 Test centuries, could well be playing his final Test series in the Rainbow Nation.

He has been in tremendous form in 2010 as he leads the run-scoring charts and had also scored the first double hundred in ODIs early this year.

Smith, one of the youngest captains in Test cricket, also heaped praises on India coach and former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten.

"Gary (Kirsten) was one of my heroes while I was growing up, so obviously it was great to get the opportunity to play with him," he said.

"He's a guy that I respect a hell of a lot and I'm sure the Indian team itself respects him. That respect will also go onto the field. It's about playing well for South Africa, but that respect will always be there," the Protea skipper added.

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