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Sachin Tendulkar; Cricket's Biggest Star

Updated on March 10, 2011

The Little Master

The most successful batsman ever

I have loved cricket since the age of about ten when I realised that an entire day of the school summer holidays glued to the TV screen watching a sport that meandered along for the better part of eight hours and lasted for five days. This first love was 20 years ago and throughout this time one thing at least has remained constant about the sport I love; Sachin Tendulkar is the batsman above all others that I love to watch play.

Born in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), the young S.R. Tendulkar had first made noises among Indian cricketing circles when he hit an unbeaten 326 for his school team as part of an unbroken 664-run partnership with fellow schoolboy, and later test cricketer, Vinod Kambli. Tendulkar, having previously failed to make an impact with an unimpressed Dennis Lillee at his fast-bowling academy in Mumbai, was now spoken of only as a batsman.

Tendulkar was rushed into the India side in a hurry after playing only a handful of games and one season in domestic cricket, making his debut against India’s old enemy, Pakistan, at Karachi in 1989. He was just 16 years old. Despite his obvious promise, the young Sachin was not prolific in terms of runs scored and had to wait until his third series to score his first century against England at Old Trafford in 1990.

By 1994 Tendulkar had already been playing for 5 years, and unlike most test batsmen had only just entered his twenties! He was now reaching the peak of his powers and was feared by every other side in the world. His abilities allowed him to score effortlessly all around the ground, taking apart pace and spin bowling with equal authority and accumulating runs at a consistently high rate. Even Sir Donald Bradman, rated by many as the greatest player to ever play the game confided in his wife that the little Indian reminded him of himself. Merv Hughes, during an unbeaten 148 by Tendulkar against the Aussies remarked to Alan Border in less admiring language, “This little prick’s going to score more runs than you AB”, a prophecy he fulfilled in 2007 when he went past Border’s 11,174 test runs.

Tendulkar becomes the leading runscorer in tests

In the mid and late 90s debate among my cricket-loving friends would rage about whether Brian Lara or Tendulkar were the best batsman in the world.  Lara had just scored the biggest score in the history of test cricket; 375 against England (he would go on to score 400* ten years later, again against the luckless England!). Yet despite this, I was never swayed.  There was something about Tendulkar’s orthodox style at the crease which made him impossible to bowl to, Lara’s flamboyant back-lift and shuffle across his stumps made a bowler feel he always had a chance as he risked his wicket.  Despite this Lara would achieve Border’s record first and go to almost 12,000 runs before he retired in 2006.

Tendulkar’s form would dip, if only by his own standards, in the early years of the new millennium.  Talk in the Indian press, an arena in which journalists tiptoed around such issues for fear of a fall in readership numbers, turned to discussion of his decline and inevitable and imminent retirement.  The Little Master proved his critics wrong, however, and in 2008 surpassed Brian Lara’s record for number of test runs. 

Tendulkar’s total runs in the test arena now stand at almost 15,000, and his one day international aggregate at more than 17,500. Last month Tendulkar became the first player ever to surpass 50 test centuries; with 11 more than his nearest rival for this record (Jacques Kallis on 40).  His stock has never been higher, scoring more runs than any other batsman in 2010 Sachin shows no sign of letting up.   

Now aged 40 Tendulkar is treated as a god in India, he has tremendous wealth and does much to contribute to charity in his native Mumbai and further afield. He has undoubtedly been the most important and influential player to have played the game in my lifetime and is arguable the best test and limited overs player ever to have played the game.  Bowling attacks around the world may disagree with me, but I hope that the Little Master continues to play the game for many years to come.  


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