Chennai: Australian great Dennis Lillee on Monday recalled his first meeting with Sachin Tendulkar and said on a lighter note that he did the game a "favour" by rejecting the batsman when he went to the MRF Pace Foundation with an ambition to become a fast bowler in the late 80s.
Hoping to become a pacer, Tendulkar went to the MRF Pace Foundation in 1987. But his ambitions were crushed by the foundation's coaching director Lillee, who advised the then young Tendulkar to focus on his batting instead of bowling.
Asked about his first encounter with Tendulkar, Lillee, who is bidding adieu to the MRF Pace Foundation after 25 years of service, said, "I actually feel very embarrassed because I rejected him as a fast bowler.
"I think I did him and the game of cricket a favour. I am just joking, but I will never forget (the incident)."
"When he came back a year later he was just 15 years or so. I was there behind the nets. The first ball Sachin faced he hit it behind the bowler for a four. Sachin flicked the next ball for a four as well. The bowlers were not able to get Sachin and he was hitting them out of the park.
"When he was still batting with about 48 runs or so from 12 balls, I asked (the then head coach) T A Sekar who is this boy. Sekar laughed and replied you should know him, he is the boy whom you rejected when he wanted to become a fast bowler," he added.