“Consensus is that Sir Donald Bradman was the best batsman ever to play Cricket. Sir Don did not play One-Day Cricket but if he did, he could easily be Sachin Tendulkar.” – Barry Richards.
So, when this great man named Sachin Tendulkar was going through a lean patch in 2006, people all over the world starting counting his days at the international arena. But very few were to expect the kind of resilience and temperament he showed in the year to come. He was to show his critics and people who wanted to see him leave the dressing room, the true genius and magic of a diligent and committed cricketer. The year 2007 saw this great man amass yet another 1000 runs in a calendar year, making it 7 in total, and to show the world how India can reverse back after a dismal display at the World Cup.
Though I have been a great fan of this man ever since my learning days, the reason for me to pen my appreciation on his genius today is to make all those critics and boy lovers realize, that there is still that one name that draws attention in most opposition minds and makes them wonder – how on earth can we get this guy out!. Today when the over rated and over respected Mathew Hayden is on the verge of ending his test career, a 35 year old ‘kid’ is still wanting to win the WC for India, isn’t it a disgrace to have compared him to the genius of Sachin. Hayden does hold his aura at the top of the innings, but can it draw a comparison with that of Sachin, with a billion fans expecting a hundred every time he walks onto the ground and the entire dressing room looking up to him, I would say a big NO.
So, why the fuss about his selection before a tour begins, why an eye brow raise after every single digit score? Isn’t he human? Doesn’t he deserve the credit that of Mathew Hayden who even after 21 innings without a 50 is given a chance by the so called Aussie way of ruling things?
When drawing a comparison one has to look at what is the weight of balance on both ends. In cricket’s point of view, the kind of opposition one faced. In batting, Sachin has reached a stage that others can only dream of. He has hammered every bowling opposition in the world - from Shane Warne (Aus.) to Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak.), and Waqar Younis (Pak.) to Allan Donald (RSA), from Curtley Ambrose (WI) to Danny Morrison (NZ) and in style. What has Hayden faced, where did he get most of runs and against what kind of attack. 30 Test centuries do look credible, but are they credible enough to draw a comparison to that of Sachins’. This requires an entire new post.
Sachin’s saga though, continues as the master-blaster made the highest runs in a single calendar year in ODIs in 1998, amassing 1894 in 34 games at an average of 65.31, including nine hundreds and seven fifties. Tendulkar broke his own world record of 1611 runs set in 1996. He also crossed 1000 runs in five other years 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2007. At Indore against Australia on March 31 2001, Tendulkar drove Shane Warne for a single to long-off and went down as the first man to scale the summit of 10,000 runs in ODIs. Sachin Tendulkar reached another milestone during the third day of the second Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club when he struck Arnoldus Blignaut for his third boundary to move from 18 to 22, Tendulkar surpassed Dilip Vengsarkar's tally of 6868 runs to become India's second highest Test run getter. The highlight of the Queen's Park Oval at Port of Spain in Trinidad, 2002, test play had been Tendulkar scoring his 29th Test century to equal Sir Donald Bradman's record of Test hundreds. The young maestro had surpassed Gavaskar’s tally of 34 Test hundreds and now sits on 41 Test Hundreds.
“You might pitch a ball on the off stump and think you have bowled a good ball and he walks across and hits it for two behind midwicket. His bat looks so heavy but he just waves it around like it's a toothpick.” – Brett Lee, on Sachin Tendulkar’s batting
Now lets in brief dig into his start. In his schooldays Sachin joined the nets of Dronacharya Ramakant Acharekar. With his schoolmate Vinod Kambli of Shardashram he enjoyed his school level cricket. These two Shardashram batsmen added a mountain of 664 runs for the third wicket in a Harris Shield game in February 1988 at the Azad Maidan to create a new world partnership record for any wicket in any class of cricket. Kambli made 349 and skipper Tendulkar 326 as Shardashram hoisted a total of 748/2 before taking mercy on a wilting St. Xavier's High School attack. It was then that he was picked up by eyes of selectors of Mumbai Cricket team. Tendulkar made them proud with his unique debut in domestic cricket. He remains the only player to score a century on debut in all three domestic first class competitions: 100 not out in the Ranji Trophy (Bombay v Gujarat at Bombay 1988-89), 159 in the Duleep Trophy (West Zone v East Zone at Guwahati 1990-91) and 103 not out in the Irani Trophy (Rest of India v Delhi at Bombay, 1989-90). (Stats courtesy www.howstat.com)
The wonder boy made his international debut in ODIs and Tests at the age of 16 against traditional opponent Pakistan and the fiery pace of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Tendulkar became the youngest batsman to score a Test half century when he made 59 against Pakistan at Faisalabad on November 24 1989. He also became the youngest man to score 1000 runs in Tests - at 19 years and 217 days - during his fourth Test century at Johannesburg in 1992/93.
When Tendulkar is on, there is no more regal sight in the cricketing world (except for bowlers…they get experience of the nightmare). The spectators at the stadium are on their feet cheering while all over the world, TV audiences are glued to the screen.
With such an aura and magic around him, a comparison to the likes of Hayden and Ponting are beyond my understanding. Hayden himself had this to say.
“His life seems to be a stillness in a frantic world... [When he goes out to bat], it is beyond chaos - it is a frantic appeal by a nation to one man. The people see him as a God... “–Mathew Hayden, on Sachin Tendulkar.
” I am a normal person who plays cricket. I am nothing more than that” – Sachin Tendulkar, on being told of above quote.
He is so much to learn from, not just as a cricketer but as a human being. So my sincere urge to stop all those comparisons to the likes of Haydens, Pontings, etc. They hold their own but nothing as compared to the great one. Beyond doubt, a living legend and a great title holder!!!