The Essentials

'I have a mean cover drive'

Tennis ace Leander Paes talks Sunny, Viv, Sachin and Kallis

© Getty Images

What is the best cricket match you have watched?
As a kid back in Calcutta, I would be glued to the television, and one of my fondest memories is India prevailing over the rest of the world, watching Kapil Dev and Sunny Gavaskar lift the 1983 World Cup.

What can tennis learn from cricket?
Cricket has done such a fantastic job in terms of governance of the sport and also the way they look after their athletes - getting a game played in three different formats to integrate itself into the mindset of such a large population. So tennis on a global scale can learn from cricket in terms of the marketing and positioning of the sport.

Who was your cricket hero growing up?
Viv Richards was one of my favourites. Sunny Gavaskar is a true gentleman. I loved the way Sachin conducted himself.

Have you got any compliments from cricketers?
Sunny Gavaskar keeps calling me "Viv" because apparently I remind him of Viv Richards. I hope it's because of the way I hit my forehands and my serves.

Who's your favourite international cricket player?
Virat Kohli. He is quite a vibrant brand. He can be a good ambassador and role model for youngsters in our country.

What's your favourite cricket shot to play?
I have a mean cover drive. I have a good pair of hands. I see the ball quick. I love playing cricket - it's one of my favourite things.

A bowler you would like to face?
The whole West Indies fast bowling attack of yesteryear.

Which modern cricketer do you think could make a good tennis player?
Jacques Kallis is a mean tennis player. He is one of the top athletes. And Sachin is good too.

As told to Gaurav Kalra, senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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