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How great is Tendulkar?

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Ben Dirs | 23:22 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

There is, I will admit, something slightly absurd about journalists ranking the deeds of our finest sportsmen and women: who am I, to whom greatness is a stranger, to judge greatness in others? And how 'great', really, is someone who happens to have been conferred with the talent of ball control? Mandela-great? Give me a break.

Yet there was lionisation of gladiators in ancient Rome and wrestlers in ancient Greece, suggesting it is inherent in humans to be awed by the athletic prowess of others. No pub bores back in Neolithic times, but there were probably caves full of blokes arguing over who was the greatest tree-climber ever. Even Nelson Mandela, usually taken up with more cerebral matters, admits one of his biggest heroes is Muhammad Ali.

So, let's have it then: how great is Sachin Tendulkar, who goes into Saturday's World Cup final needing to score one century to have amassed 100 in international cricket and one win away from sending the nation of India into meltdown? To answer that question, first it is necessary to define sporting greatness. Then we must address whether Tendulkar fits each component part of that definition.

Don't worry, this isn't a university thesis. But Tendulkar hagiographies are everywhere, and for a full-on love letter to 'The Little Master', you can read a blog I wrote before the World Cup kicked off in earnest, what seems like a eternity ago.

When Andrew Flintoff retired from cricket in 2009 arguments raged in the media and in pubs across the land as to whether he was great or not. I said not, because the first component part of greatness is cold hard statistics.

Sachin Tendulkar

Tendulkar has scored 51 Test and 48 ODI hundreds in a 21 year international career. Photo: Reuters

In 79 Tests and 141 one-day internationals, Flintoff scored eight centuries and took five five-wicket hauls, and never a 10-fer. South Africa's Jacques Kallis has to date played 145 Tests and 314 ODIs, scoring 57 centuries and taking seven five-wicket hauls. In addition, his bowling average in Tests is better than Flintoff's (the Englishman's ODI bowling average is, admittedly, markedly lower).

If a great cricketer is someone whose numbers are comparatively better than all or almost all of his contemporaries, then Kallis qualifies. Flintoff does not. Tendulkar, meanwhile, has scored 30 more tons than the next highest century-maker in international cricket, Ricky Ponting, which puts the Indian out on his own. Miles out, in fact, just like Don Bradman's vertiginous batting average.

Flintoff was a cricketer who occasionally did great things, which is different from being a great cricketer. Which takes us to our next component parts of greatness - longevity and consistency of performance.

To have scored 99 international centuries, it has been necessary for Tendulkar to be at the top of the game for more than 20 years, which in any sport is extraordinary. In that time, he has suffered nary a blip. He had a rough time in Tests in 2006, but the following year he scored 776 runs at an average of 55.4. Not much of a blip.

Paul Gascoigne, one of my few footballing heroes, had more talent in his big toe than most England footballers playing today. But truly great? I would have to say no - too few highlights, far too many lows.

John Daly has won two majors in golf, but only one tournament since claiming the Open Championship in 1995. Does that make him a better golfer than Colin Montgomerie, who has 40 professional wins to his name spanning 18 years, but none of them a major? And if so, does it follow that Daly is necessarily a great? Again, I would have to say no.

Muhammad Ali

For many, Muhammad Ali is the benchmark for greatness in sport. Photo: Getty

Longevity was a big part of Ali's greatness - he won Olympic gold in 1960 and regained the heavyweight world title 18 years later. Mike Tyson, past his best by the age of 24, does not even make venerable boxing historian Bert Sugar's all-time heavyweight top 10.

Sugar, meanwhile, has Britain's Lennox Lewis down at 18 in his list. This is frankly bizarre, but I can understand his thinking: Lewis' achievements, Sugar would no doubt argue, are downgraded by a lack of competition. Competition and rivalry are also significant factors in greatness.

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal are considered by some to be the two greatest tennis players of all time, and that is in large part down to the fact they have amassed 25 Grand Slam titles between them by having to beat each other on a regular basis.

In Tendulkar's first Test, against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989, the 16-year-old faced fearsome pace duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and he played during the last flourishing of great West Indian quicks. Against Australia, the world's best team for much of the last 20 years, he averages 46 in ODIs and more than 60 in Tests. Like Federer and Nadal, like Nicklaus and Palmer, he thrived against the best.

But where, I hear some of you ask, are Tendulkar's medals, concrete proof of a sportsperson's greatness? Truth is, Tendulkar has won nothing of note. But this is often the way with team sports, especially modern cricket, where the best play almost exclusively in the international arena and the World Cup is the only thing of note to win.

A better gauge of the greatness of team players is how they perform on the biggest stage, and to that end Tendulkar is peerless. In six World Cups, Tendulkar has scored the most runs (2,260 to date), most centuries (six), most 50+ scores (21) and the most runs in a single tournament (673 in 2003). Sure, he has not won a World Cup (yet), but Italy rugby captain Sergio Parisse has a fair few Six Nations Wooden Spoons in his imaginary utensil drawer and is considered at number eight for any world XV.

Last, it is necessary to look at how Tendulkar has gone about his business - the manner in which he has achieved what he has. Personally, I don't subscribe to the view that Tiger Woods is any less great because of his personal travails or because he spits and curses on the course. But there are those who think Tom Watson, for example, is the greater golfer because of his more dignified nature.

Temperament-wise, Tendulkar is more Watson than Woods. During three decades at the pinnacle of his sport, under the glare of more than a billion countrymen, there has been barely a hint of controversy. Indeed, some would argue he has been a little bit dull, that a bit of off-field strife or outspokenness would have made him a more engaging figure.

But it is impossible to imagine the pressure Tendulkar is under. As the signs at his home ground in Mumbai will say on Saturday: "If cricket is a religion, then Sachin is God." The poor bloke has enough on his plate without inviting more attention, and perhaps only Manny Pacquiao, whose fights stop wars in his native Philippines, can truly empathise.

Where Tendulkar is concerned, it is not a case of whether he is great, but how great. Ask a member of England's Rugby World Cup-winning side of 2003 who the most important member of the team was and there is a good chance he will say Richard Hill. Hill is a bona fide great, but he is fortunate in that he can stroll round his local supermarket and hardly anyone will recognise him.

The true greats - the really, really, really great - transcend their sport, become almost god-like, and gods don't go to the supermarket for their shopping. Tendulkar, a legend in his own career, is on the top table, up there with Tiger and Jordan and Pele. Not the greatest, though - I'm with Mandela, that simply has to be Ali, the greatest great there has ever been and probably ever will be.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about - or on the sofa - at http://twitter.com/bendirs1 

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Yeah, he's not bad...

  • Comment number 2.

    It's not just the runs he has scored, but the way he scores them. has there ever been a more graceful, elegant batsman than sachin? i cant think of any!

  • Comment number 3.

    Taking everything into account, He's OK

  • Comment number 4.

    As a non(just in passing) cricket follower I can recognise how good he is. Perhaps another measure is how the prowess of a sportsperson is recognised by those who don't know the sport that well. This list for me would include Ali, Pele, Woods, Schumacher (not Ralf, sorry), Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong. I don't follow half the sports they excelled in but know about what they did/do because it rose above mere sporting achievement and became something bigger.

  • Comment number 5.

    An interesting article, thank you.

    However, I would like to argue that the Tendulkar, although incredible, is not the greatest cricketer of all time. Quite simply it must be Don Bradman. I would urge any cricket fan to check out bradman's stats page on cricinfo. It is phenomenal. he was so far ahead of everone else it is incredible. Whilst everyone around him was averaging low 30s, Bradman was averaging 99. The low 30s is the same today, so the overall level of competition between batsman and bowler is the same today as it was then. He also lost 8 years to the war.

    Even in the bodyline series, where the whole system was designed to get Bradman out, he still averaged over 50!

  • Comment number 6.

    Another good blog. gotta agree with your first point, mandela, tops in any 'great' table. The other name i would put in this category who you didnt mention is Steve Redgrave, medals at the highest possible level, 5 golds, and longevity, 1984 to 2000 in a sport requiring a level of commitment away from the public eye that few of us can imagine. and no, i am not a rower. But not disagreeing that Tendulkar deserves to be up there

  • Comment number 7.

    Your Richard Hill link is broken. other than that a good read.

  • Comment number 8.

    Not sure Jordan deserves to be in there. She certainly gets more newspaper column inches than Tendulkar could ever dream of, but her batting average is nowt special IMO.

  • Comment number 9.

    A good article Dirs, but you missed out what truly makes one great, and that's to be recognised as such by your peers, and so that leaves you with "The Great One", Wayne Gretzky.

  • Comment number 10.

    Tendulkar is obviously a good player but I feel that the shine of his greatness is dimmed by the glare from one of his contemporaries.

    I am of course talking about Ian Bell.

  • Comment number 11.

    While it always interesting to speculate it really comes down to opinion .
    So many things to factor in , and public knowledge is not always there in order to make an informed decision.
    When one considers Bobby Jones retired before he was thirty, comparing Federer and Nadal with Laver , who himself rated Emmerson better, factoring in all the equiptment changes professionalism etc how Jack Johnson was so highly rated when he won heavy title by beating the smallest heavywt champ in boxing history , Burns was 5'7" 168lbs a blown up middle wt , and never fought a good proper heaywt in his entire career , Stanley Matthews was under rated , if you look at length of top flight playing yrs Pele has stood the test time IMO as the greatest ever , how great could Jim Thorpe have been we will never know as he was so cruelly dealt with in his prime, so many questions that will never be answered I fear.

  • Comment number 12.

    Tendulkar has been phenomenal and amazingly consistent throughout his career and so was Sunil Gavasker with his many many centuries in his time. But that's not the point when you compare a person with the likes of Maradona or Jordan's of the game. If you want to compare anyone in cricket with the likes of the previous two I mentioned you talk about the great ViV, Sobers and off course there was another genius that was around few years early that I anyone can easily call a genius:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/375538.html

    My top 3 batsmen of all times: ViV, Sobers and Brian. Not for record but cause of sheer skill and electricity they had on the pitch.

  • Comment number 13.

    Is Tendulkar great? Of course he is, like you say longevity is an important factor and Tendulkar certainly had this. I also agree with whoever said Bradman is still the greatest cricketer of all time. Stats sometimes tell a story and the Don averaged 40 runs more than anyone else has managed.

  • Comment number 14.

    not sure the comparison with jordan, woods or even armstrong works. as they were by far the best people at what they did, woods probably more so than the others as frankly if he didnt win a tournament it was a shock. tendulkar on the other hand has only one advantage over say ponting, kallis and lara that is his longevity. for instance ponting has one three world cups and captained australia with great distinction in tests as well as being voted cricketer of the decade. tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers ever, but woods, armstrong and jordan are by far the best ever to play their sport. sadly tendulkar is not don bradman is

  • Comment number 15.

    Anyone here remember Shane Warne? Certainly the greatest bowler in my lifetime.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think one thing here that has been forgotten is to me the best sportsman there has ever been. Phil Taylor, a lot of people look at darts as a joke of a sport but when you play yourself and realise how hard it is to hit 1 treble 20 a game you realise the unbelievable talent, two 9 dart finishes in 1 game? the way he lets the competitor start the match? his unbelievable average? and how he has transformed darts from a small game to a fast growing sport.

  • Comment number 17.

    The guy is a living god...end of !

    To have over one billion people across the world not just the sub continent, follow your every move on the Cricket pitch and to amass as many runs, as many records, as many accolades as he has, and to do so in such a diginified and humble manner, wow I've said it before and I'll say it again....All Hail Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest batsmen the world has ever seen.....!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Sachin Tendulkar
    Donald Bradman
    Pele
    Diego Maradona
    Johann Cruyff
    Michael Schumacher
    Valentino Rossi
    Mohammed Ali
    Steve Redgrave
    Carl Lewis
    Miguel Indurain
    Lance Armstrong
    Roger Federer
    Rafa Nadal
    Martina Navratilova
    Michael Jordan
    Jack Nicklaus
    Tiger Woods
    Michael Phelps
    Babe Ruth
    Jackie Joyner-Kersee




  • Comment number 19.

    Well, I am Indian, and although the ''God''-ding of Tendulkar by the Indian cricket-watching crowd and media gets to me, I accept what you say about his longevity, his application, his performances and so on. I've heard Tendulkar talk about Roger Federer at various places (at least before Rafa started beating Fed regularly) and he probably draws a lot from Fed's general no-fuss, keep-piling-on-the-records ethic.

    Chew on this: Tendulkar's also played more games in decidedly batting-friendly conditions than any other batsman in cricketing history. This is of course also true of the other batters in his generation. We are in an era where 10000 runs in tests is not an unreachable goal like before (see we are not even mentioning Gavaskar anymore, because so many others have done it). In 2-3 decades I am sure there will be batsmen with 17-20000 runs.

    He'll be the first man to score 100 centuries. There will be others who score more, simply because humongous batting displays have become the hallmark of the game.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ben It would appear that you may be a Jonny Wakelin fan ( remember Rumble in the Jungle ). Interesting read, and I must admit that all those who came under your consideration were "Greats" in there own sport, but, how many performed at the highest level for a period of over 2 decades ? how many maintained the level of fitness over this period of time ? and how many performed at vastly diverse arenas around the world consistently, the answer can only be NONE.
    Was Larwood Legtrap any greater challenge than facing the 98mph bowling at Perth, I don't think so.. where is the Comparison and the eventual " Doubt " about the Greatest Sportsman of all time......

  • Comment number 21.

    No doubt Sachin is a cricketing great, but does he really transcend the sport? If you went to a non-=cricketing country and showed them a picture would they have a clue? No. But a picture of Ali, Tiger, Fed et al would likely be recognised by those who take no active interest in the sport. A great cricketer no doubt.

    I have a couple of bones of contention though, as this type of article always creates. Have you forgotten the other great in this tournament who is also expected to play come Saturday? A certain Murali? A man who's own record is as stirling as Sachins? Seems he's slipped under the radar, possibly because his exploits this tournament have been somewhat subdued compared to Sachins...

    Finally, you discount Flintoff as a great based on the cold hard facts of statistics. I could name you a hatful of world champion boxers with better records than Ali's. I think Ali is overrated as a sportsman (how contentious is that?) but I do not doubt he was the greatest character and undoubtedly the only sportsman to truly transcend his sport. I honestly hand on heart believe Ali is only considered so great because of the hype he created, there have been more talented boxers who have fought in strong eras who have not had the same glory. The greatest sportsman ever... no, but probably not far off.

    Good article by the way. Now when's it Murali's turn...

  • Comment number 22.

    Tendulkar is probably in the top 5 cricketers in the world and he has been for a long time. He should be commended for his ability to perform well throughout his career.

    He is the Ryan Giggs of cricket, not always the best but usually up there and capable of very good games.

    However, it is difficult to imagine the lavish praise Jacques Kallis would attract if he were Indian. The exaggeration that surrounds Tendulkar is such that it is hard to assess him fairly.

    For some of his fans he has been great for many years. For others his inability to score in victories and his poor record in the last innings are indications of his frailty compared with Lara for example.

    Because of the cult that follows Tendulkar his greatness can never be easily assessed.

  • Comment number 23.

    This blog reminds me of that airline advert with Kevin Spacey about what makes a great seat. The example of Phil Taylor is probably appropriate for there is no doubt that he is a great in his particular field. However is he great to the eyes of many: those who do not know the sport; those who have not even heard of the sport. Thus the same can be said about Tendulkar and cricket.

  • Comment number 24.

    The thing you have to remember with Bradman as well is he scored a substantial amount of runs in the days before they covered the pitch. Talk to anyone who has watched Bradman live and they will tell you it's not even close.

    ===
    Thus the same can be said about Tendulkar and cricket.
    ===

    A billion people in India would disagree.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Greats" are acknowledged as such by their peers and are influential within their own sport.

    Fans believe them to be be unique, dominant (longevity), overcoming adversity or attempts to negate their ability (Bradman / bodyline) and also having that X factor (raising their game).

    They will also be acknowledged outside their own sport particularly as entertainers and named by people who do not know the particular sport.

    He has earned his place in the hall of fame.

    BUT I think those with longer memories (say back into the 60's & 70's) will speak first of Sobers, Bradman & Richards ahead of him. But I think he ranks alongside them in the modern game.....

  • Comment number 26.

    Anyone who can be clean bowled by Michael Vaughan in a test match surely can't be that good can they?

    I think you can make an exception for Sachin, to come into international cricket at 16 years old and to still be going at the very top. He is a remarkable player and truly great, but I wouldn't say the greatest.

    I have always enjoyed watching him bat, though I'd be more scared in a test match to see Dravid's name on the score card - as I always though you stood more of a chance to get Sachin out, especially early on. In my years following cricket the only other non-English person I have enjoyed watching bat as much was Brian Lara. Sachin has had a ridiculous amount of pressure on him throughout his whole career that most people can't even imagine. Everyone is expecting him to walk out on Saturday and score 100, some people are talking about it like it's already happened, but such is the ability of the guy I wouldn't be putting money on a cheap dismissal!

    Still, it doesn’t really compare to Don Bradman though, which is why he’d only ever be at best #2.

    The cross sport analysis are much harder - especially against individual sports. No matter how good Sachin is he isn't capable of taking 20 wickets as well, throughout his time India have been much stronger in the batting department than the bowling. Would Pele have been so great if his sides shipped goals the other end?

  • Comment number 27.

    Ben, I agree with much of what you say, but the question I have is how you, as a journalist, can accurately gauge how great Ali was compared to Tendulkar, as like me, you aren't old enough to have really seen and understood Ali at his greatest. Maybe that's the same with Pele. I would argue until I'm blue in the teeth that Pele is greater than Maradona, but I didn't see Pele at his best, all I can judge him on is the stats, which are undeniable, but also mainly in the Brazilian football leagues. However, Maradona can never be greated because of "that" goal for which I can never forgive him. At least, however, I have personal experience of this. For me, Tendulkar will always be one of the greatest sportsmen I've had the pleasure of witnessing. Greatest ever? Who knows.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dean Windass.

  • Comment number 29.

    Lance Armstrong the greatest cyclist? I think you'll find that was Eddy Merckx. An extraordinarily dominant cyclist and a glaring omission from your list of greats.

  • Comment number 30.

    I see your Dean Windass and raise you Ali Dia. KAPOW.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Sachin ,Sachin!"....rat-a-tat

    Dozens of cricket grounds over the last couple of decades have resonated with that chant. The sheer joy Tendulkar brings has never ever been brought by a single sportsman to so many people for so long.

    Bradman has got his own set of unassailable records.
    Tendulkar has got his own set of Everest like records.

    "Bradman,Bradman"?...Nah
    For me "Sachin, Sachin"!....All the way!

  • Comment number 32.

    Cracking stuff, always enjoy reading your blog.

    The 'great' question is a tough one, and the most trouble I've had with it is in Formula One. Schumacher won so many world titles, and was so dominant, but I bet you any money that the majority of F1 fans would rate the likes of Prost, Senna, Piquet, Clark and Stewart - even Moss, who didn't win a title - above Schumacher for one of the reasons you mentioned here: the importance of competition.

    Fortunately, Tendulkar played against some of the best bowlers of his, or any other, generation, so is surely deserving of some level of greatness.

    My question is: where's the equivalent article for Kallis? His statistics are arguably even more impressive than Tendulkar, and he has the Richard Hill ambiguity about him...

  • Comment number 33.

    Strong blog. Although in line with whoever mentioned Gretzky, the North American sports seem to be slightly overlooked due to the lack of exposure to a world audience. Some athletes to grace the NFL, NBA, NHL & MLB don't quite get the praise they should from the rest of the world.
    But hey, just keep bringing me great sporting characters like Sachin and I'll have entertainment my whole life!

  • Comment number 34.

    Tendulkar has been a sublime cricketer and his soon to be accomplished 100 centuries in internationals is staggering but he is currently is only 14th in the highest career batting averages so you have to keep it in perspective.

    On other greats, I always thought that Rod Laver was the best tennis player I ever saw until Federer in his prime.

    Ali was at times the greatest boxer (one of my boyhood heroes, Bobby Charlton was the other) but there is a tendency for people to look at his career with pink tinted specs. He was never the same after his three year layoff and boxers who would have never got near him when he was young were able to hold their own, e.g. Bugner, Spinks, etc. Very embarrassing.

    I really hope Woods doesn't beat Nicklaus's record. Spectacular though he has been the way he has lived his life and his disrespect of golf has been appalling. However, I would pay to see him play and maybe that is the sign of greatness - how much people are prepared to pay to see the star.

  • Comment number 35.

    29. At 16:47pm on 31st Mar 2011, jamsodonnell wrote:
    Lance Armstrong the greatest cyclist? I think you'll find that was Eddy Merckx. An extraordinarily dominant cyclist and a glaring omission from your list of greats.

    Totally agree but to the layman, Lance Armstrong has raised the profile of the sport no end. I agree a lot of that is though his battles away from cycling but the fact he returned afterwards and was more than just competitive raises his and the sports profile beyond fans of the sport. That to me must be a measure of greatness.

  • Comment number 36.

    Cold hard stats are easier to keep in some sports than others. With someone like Michael Jordan, I really have to take other people's word to believe his greatness - Gary Neville won a lot of titles after all.

    The recent generation has given us two sports men great by every measure of greatness: Keninisa Bekele and Michael Phelps. Both have had incredible natural advantages, but have not only worked to make the most of them and dominate their best areas over now quite long periods of time, they have both been willing to go out of their comfort zone to take on further challenges, and when the goings been tougher, have still pulled through.

  • Comment number 37.

    This is, as stated upfront a tad more absurd than mentioned. Looks like we're comparing grapes to grapefruits here, how can you compare a batsman from the team sport of cricket, with 3 forms of games (tests, ODI and T20) against boxers and golfers? These are almost as diverse as politicans, actors and scientists in one basket.

    The author would have done better by sticking to the greatness in comparison within cricketers than apply what seems to be a lot of personal opinion to compare it so wide across sports.

    Look forward to better content with more merit to be published in your esteemed news source..

  • Comment number 38.

    28. At 16:45pm on 31st Mar 2011, jeffersonjeffjeff wrote:
    Dean Windass.

    -----

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

  • Comment number 39.

    Great blog, can't really argue with anything against. I remember years ago in an interview with Sir Don Bradman, he was asked who he liked to watched and Lady Bradman was also asked who of the current players reminded her of The Don. Answer: one Sachin Tendulkar.

    If it's good enough for Sir Don and Lady Bradman, it's good enough for me.

  • Comment number 40.

    Funny how none of these real sporting Greats are British. We might have invented many of the sports being discussed, but it sort of makes you realize that we're not that special after all. Flintoff is a bit of a red-herring on here. Shane Warne took almost as many English Test wickets alone as Flintoff managed in his entire career against all the Test playing countries on the planet! And at a far better average too!

  • Comment number 41.

    38. At 16:55pm on 31st Mar 2011, potcfc wrote:
    28. At 16:45pm on 31st Mar 2011, jeffersonjeffjeff wrote:
    Dean Windass.

    -----

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

    See post #30. At 16:47pm on 31st Mar 2011, You wrote:
    I see your Dean Windass and raise you Ali Dia. KAPOW.

  • Comment number 42.

    Good read Ben, but as they say, there are lies, damn lies & statistics.
    Comparing Flintoff to Kallis is severe & not like for like, Flintoff was never a number 3 batter like Kallis, but Kallis could never bowl as good as Freddie. But for Freddies injuries his stats would have been so much more, but injuries are never seen in statistics.
    Class at their sport is the key, not statistics, so what if Gazza never had any medals at footy, neither did George Best, and he was great.
    For class Tendulkar is a great, irrespective of stats, people look up to him, like they do to Watson, Nicklaus, and a bit like they did to Woods.

  • Comment number 43.

    Can you stop ignoring bowlers, they are cricketers too. I don't want the likes of Robert Croft and Devon Malcom unjustly left out of this debate.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sachin Tendulkar's record speaks for itself. He is great!!! He's excelled in every form of the game. His fielding has been good and he's taken wickets too! I think the final could just be set up perfectly for him: 100 international centuries and the world cup in one go.

    How many sportsmen/women have been at the top of their game for the best part of 22 years?

    Just to add to the Bradman debate. Bradman averaged 99 in first class cricket. Its difficult to compare him and Tendulkar. Bradman played in an era where you might play 5 tests per year, 10 at the max. The rest was against state and county sides with non international players. Tendulkar plays in an era where you play 10-15 tests per calendar year, 15 ODI's, 10 T20's and IPL. All against the best bowlers in the world.

  • Comment number 45.

    * international medals for their country (Gazza & George Best)

  • Comment number 46.

    For anyone claiming that Lance Armstrong is by far the greatest cyclist of all time, you should know that he barely makes the top 5. Search for Eddy Merckx on wikipedia and look at his list of victories, then check Armstrongs and you'll see what i mean. Merckx for me has to be one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, just utterly dominant.

  • Comment number 47.

    Have you considered Garry Kasparov? The best in chess for 20+ years and considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time.

    The facts: Kasparov > Tendulkar :)

  • Comment number 48.

    #46 - agree but can you really argue that Armstron is not on the list of greatest sportsmen? not just as a cyclist but for what he has done outside of the sport?

  • Comment number 49.

    Ben, there is a decent argument for claiming that Tendulkar is better than Bradman.

    This is put forward by the great science writer Stephen Jay Gould (using baseball statistics as an example as to why no one could possibly beat Ty Cobb's average in the modern era)

    Basicially, although there were great bowlers in the era, the overall standard of bowler and fielder has improved over time with modern diet, training and selection techniques. So although individuals through talent and practice would have excelled in any era they were playing against inferior opposition for the most part and milked them accordingly.

    In the words of Stephen Jay Gould (re. baseball) Swap the names Bradman for Cobb and Gwynn for Tendulkar?

    "The overall batting average has been about .260 throughout the history of baseball. But the variation around that average has shrunk. It's at least plausible that variation declines because play improves. A batting average is a comparison between hitting and pitching. So if everybody's improving, as long as they improve at the same rate, the batting average will remain constant. But it gets to the point where everyone is so good that there's just not much variation anymore.

    Hitting .400 in baseball is a good example because there's a "right wall," if you will, of human limits. Given how our muscles work, there's just so much that the human body can do. (ie. A human will never be able to sprint as fast as a cheetah) There will always be a few individuals who, by dint of genetic gifts and obsessive commitment and training, will stand close to that right wall. That's where Ty Cobb was in 1911 and where Tony Gwynn is today. But there is this limiting wall.

    What has happened in baseball is that all aspects of play have improved enormously. Back in 1911, average play was so far inferior to where Ty Cobb was that his batting average could be measured as .420. Today, Tony Gwynn is just as good, maybe even closer to the wall than Cobb was. But the average player has improved so much that Gwynn's performance -- equal to or better than Cobb's -- is not measured as high.

  • Comment number 50.

    Susanna_Reid_is_nice wrote:
    Funny how none of these real sporting Greats are British.

    ...

    Here are some to consider:

    Roger Bannister
    Phil Taylor
    Steve Redgrave
    Sutcliffe, Paynter, Trott, Barrington, Hammond & Hobbs - all English batsmen with test averages better than Tendulkar.
    Lester Piggot
    Paula Radcliffe
    Bobby Charlton (the greatest footballer I have ever seen and that includes Best and Pele)
    Sebastian Coe

    etc.

  • Comment number 51.

    Tendulka is one of the greatest ever, how anyone can say Maradona is a sporting great is beyond me, great player but by no means 'great' not in same way as pele, tendulka, redgrave, nicklaus. Completely agree flintoff had moments of greatness but unfortunetly not enough.

  • Comment number 52.

    Food for thought and this discussion:

    Bradman still holds the following significant records for Test match cricket today!
    Highest career batting average 99.94
    Highest series batting average (5 Test series): 201.50
    Highest ratio of centuries per innings played
    Highest 5th wicket partnership: 405 (with Sid Barnes, 1946--47)
    Highest 6th wicket partnership: 346 (with Jack Fingleton, 1936--37)
    Highest score by a number 5 batsman: 304 (1934)
    Highest score by a number 7 batsman: 270 (1936--37)
    Most runs in one series: 974 (1930)
    Most centuries scored in a single session of play: 6 (1 pre lunch, 2 lunch-tea, 3 tea-stumps)
    Most runs in one day's play: 309
    Most double centuries: 12
    Most double centuries in a series: 3
    Most triple centuries: 2 (equal with Chris Gayle, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag)
    Most consecutive matches in which he made a century: 6
    Bradman has averaged over 100 in seven different calendar years - No other player has achieved this in more than two calendar years.
    Fastest player to reach 2000 (in 22 innings),3000 (33 innings),4000 (48 innings),5000 (56 innings)and 6000 (68 innings) Test runs.


  • Comment number 53.

    I've had this argument with many a friend, who is the greatest sportsman or woman that you have seen perform live, be it in the flesh or on TV? For me there's loads to choose from, Federer, Nadal, Sampras, Graf, Carl Lewis, Bolt, Michael Johnson, Bekele, Gebreselassie, El Guerrouj, Dibaba, Phelps, Jordan, Zidane, I could go on all day. I only saw Maradona and Navratilova at the very end of their careers so don't really count them.

    Difficult choice, for me it's Federer for sheer consistency when he was at his peak, plus the fact that he was in an individual sport which is almost always played in a knock out format, no team mates to carry him, on bad day an you're gone. Although the person who has produced the greatest moments I have ever seen is Bolt, give it a few more years and he could be my number one.

  • Comment number 54.

    Unfortunately the credibility of this piece is completely undermined with the absence of any reference to Phil Taylor. By far and away, in relative and absolute terms, superior to Tendulkar. Phenomenal cricketer, nonetheless.

  • Comment number 55.

    i would add to the great list:
    Severiano Ballesteros
    Zinedine Zidane

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm not a big cricket fan but I know of and respect what Tendulkar as achieved, but I agree with most of the comments on here, I don't regard him as a sporting great, a sporting great is known throughout the world regardless of if you play or follow the sport yourself, in the modern era that's far easier due to media coverage now but to truely be known to everyone and respected in your sport takes something special. As for the F1 comment, F1 is the sport I follow the most, for me Jim Clark is the pinnacle, as a F1 observer, seeing car control in the modern era is difficult, and comparing drivers is almost impossible, but Clark was seen as peerless by his competitors at the time, all of them just couldn't believe his unique ability to control a car. His death was what sparked a long overdue overhaul of safety standards (there is an excellent BBC 4 documentary about that), this was simply because no one could believe Clark could die in era where an average of 5 F1 drivers died each year. He was seen as untouchable. Back to my point though, I still wouldn't rate Clark as a sporting great, most people couldn't even tell who he is. So whilst I believe Clark is the best there as ever been, Schumacher and Senna are much closer to the sporting greatness because those names are known pretty much where ever you go. This I think is Ben's point around the numbers, the records.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ wombletiltheend
    1)
    I think Brian Lara, bless his heart, was a great batsman. But he is held in such high regard partly because of his swashbuckling style and the fact that his highest notes were higher than anyone else's. The truth is that he was nowhere near as consistently good as Tendulkar has been and still is. Consider this. In 4th innings, Brian averaged 35 to Sachin’s 39, and has 8 hundreds in winning causes vs Sachin's 20. And apart from the 153*, he has done virtually nothing in 4th innings chases. But that innings has always been cited in a "what has sachin done?" argument. Before Sachin buried the idiots at Chennai and subsequently at other places, of course.
    And let's not even bring ODIs into the picture. I'll risk sounding like a troll and say that it's ludicrous to me that anyone would look beyond Sachin as the greatest player in limited overs history. He has 32 hundreds in winning causes, has made runs eveywhere and in real pressure cooker situations (he averages 56 with 6 hundreds in ODI finals v Ponting's 38 or Lara's 28). The closest anyone comes in the ODI greatness stakes is Viv Richards, and Tendulkar has 11,000 more runs (say it out loud - ELEVEN THOUSAND), at a marginally (45 v 47) lower average and marginally lower strike rate. So, please, I beg of you fine folks, end this Sachin v Lara debate once and for all. I'll get an aneurysm if I have to listen any more about Brian Lara winning more matches (all eight of them) or having been a better batsman than Sachin

    2)
    Re. your comment “However, it is difficult to imagine the lavish praise Jacques Kallis would attract if he were Indian. The exaggeration that surrounds Tendulkar is such that it is hard to assess him fairly.”……Easy answer. Dravid has got a mighty record, has played some top notch innings and is very much in the Kallis mould. Still, it was pretty common to hear the crowd actually cheering when Dravid got out! Why? Coz that would bring Sachin in!
    Tendulkar’s game defies classification. He was one of the first Indian batsmen to actually take it to the opposition on a regular basis. He later became more of an accumulator as injuries curbed him.
    And it’s not just the crazy Indians who find Tendulkar “good” to put it mildly. It is just about every cricket observer anywhere. Most would put him next only to Bradman. Or some even rigth at the very top.
    As Mark Nicholas once said about Tendulkar : What you see is the perfect stance, still head etc. But it’s not what you see. It’s what you FEEL.and what you feel is the electricity of Genius”
    It is partly this intangible quality which makes us Tendulkar nuts crave for ever more.

  • Comment number 58.

    Pretty conclusive stats Trebor

  • Comment number 59.

    Interesting article, Ben. I think it's practically impossible to define sporting greatness. You have a fair crack at it here, but one example which would not meet the longevity and statistics criteria is Barry John. In fact, it is arguable whether John had the 'right' temperament as he chose to retire from rugby at age 27 having won 25 caps for Wales, during which he scored 90 points, because he didn't enjoy the attention his ability brought. He is about 1000 international points behind Dan Carter, but I imagine few in New Zealand would deny John's greatness, especially Fergie McCormick who John bamboozled with his kicking whilst playing for the British Lions. McCormick never played for the All Blacks again.

    I think the only reliable measure of sporting greats is whether they are talked about as greats by an overwhelming majority long after they have finished playing. Obviously, that's impossible to quantify. But Ali is talked about; Jordan is talked about; Pele is talked about. Will Tendulkar be talked about as a great in twenty or thirty years time? Undoubtedly. I was lucky enough to visit India earlier this year and enjoyed talking to the locals about cricket. One man told me that there was a saying in India: "If you're going to commit a crime, do it when Tendulkar is batting, because even God is watching."

  • Comment number 60.

    Armstong, Armstrong, Armstrong. No, if your going to draw parallels from Cycling, there can only be one man, Eddy Merckx.

    He was so good, that is there is no "greatest of all time" debate, it's "who was the second best of all time".

    Armstrong has the best TdF record in terms of titles, but in the grand scheme of things in cycling, there's any riders in history "better" than him.

    -----

    Tendulkar is an amazing player, and i think he got out against Pakistan deliberately to get his 100th ton in the final, just took Pakistan 4 attempts to hold the catches he was popping up!

    But yeah, he's up in that echleon of cricketers and sportman who can just call genius.

  • Comment number 61.

    First up, thanks for all the comments already, interesting stuff. Second of all, apologies if I neglected to mention your biggest hero, I couldn't mention them all...

    gsac123 - Not sure I agree about Tendulkar being the most graceful, elegant batsman I've ever seen. DI Gower, while not as great, is just one player more elegant than Sachin.

    backfootpunch - I would argue, as would many others, that Tendulkar, like Jordan, Woods, and Armstrong, is the best at what he does. Just ask anyone who's played with or against him.

    Phil Stavri - "I could name you a hatful of world champion boxers with better records than Ali's". Really? He fought, and beat, everyone there was to fight in probably the toughest era of heavyweight boxing in history, and won the heavyweight crown three times. They're not bad stats. Oh, by the way, it's Murali's turn tomorrow...

    BBK70 - In answer to your question, I can't gauge who was greater, Tendulkar or Ali, it's just meant to be a bit of fun really...

    Susanna_Reid_is_nice - Flintoff wasn't chucked in as a red herring, as I stated in the blog, I don't think he will go down as a bona fide great.

    goodwill_the_blue - I'm not sure comparing Flintoff and Kallis is unfair. After all, they are both all-rounders, and the reason Kallis bats at number three is because he's a better batsman than Flintoff, by some distance. And if Kallis could never bowl as well as Flintoff, then why is his Test bowling average better?

  • Comment number 62.

    TAjnr1885 - Maradona not a sporting great?! You've gotta be kidding me, the man was a genius, the best footballer who ever laced boots...

  • Comment number 63.

    aberdeenmkey - "a sporting great is known throughout the world regardless of if you play or follow the sport yourself". That's a very narrow definition of greatness. By that token, anyone who's ever played cricket, rugby or any number of sports can't possibly be great. Zinedine Zidane not a great because people in America don't know who he is?

  • Comment number 64.

    RE: Trebor

    "and all that on uncovered wickets" Geoffrey

  • Comment number 65.

    Trebor wrote:
    Susanna_Reid_is_nice wrote:
    Funny how none of these real sporting Greats are British.

    ...

    Here are some to consider:

    Roger Bannister
    Phil Taylor
    Steve Redgrave
    Sutcliffe, Paynter, Trott, Barrington, Hammond & Hobbs - all English batsmen with test averages better than Tendulkar.
    Lester Piggot
    Paula Radcliffe
    Bobby Charlton (the greatest footballer I have ever seen and that includes Best and Pele)
    Sebastian Coe

    etc.

    C'mon Trebor, but how many of those are household names outside of our shores? (maybe Trott is back hime in SA!). Some of them may even have won BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but so did Gazza, and for what? Crying like a baby? The only name on your list known globally is Bobby Charlton and he will unfortunately always come below Pele in any list of true Greats.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ Susanna_Reid_is_nice

    How about Daley Thompson, double olympic gold medallist in just about the hardest track & field event in the olympics, not to mention world and european champion, his world record stood long after he retired and is still considered the greatest decathlete of all time. Now I know athletics doesn't have the global appeal as other sports but ask anybody who knows anything about athletics and they've probably heard of Daley Thompson

  • Comment number 67.

    hi Ben,

    Its a good analysis that you have done, but according to me sachin is greatest not only on the basis of his statistics but the talent, the temperament, the respect and the ablity to destroy the worlds best bowling attacks. and in that case SACHIN IS Greater than the greatest. even you dont have 1% imagination that how much pressure he handles when he bats.
    More, Just want to tell few people who consider Don bradmen as the greatest of all. I respect him and consider him as the great, but in front of SACHIN he is a bit less. Don played really well but against the weak opposition and under very less pressure, if he might have played in this modern era of cricket than we can judge him. for me,
    SACHIN IS GREATEST OF ALL TIME, and He is the GOD of cricket'

  • Comment number 68.

    I like how you've made (an albeit brief) reference to Manny Pacquiao. So, I'd like to see a similar article on him, please?

  • Comment number 69.

    The Brit list missed off Daley Thompson.

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm not denying that Ali was (is) a sporting great but surely not the greatest? Even his boxing record is not as good as many e.g. Marciano. His charisma may be great but that is not the same. No mention for Nicklaus, that surprised me. It now looks doubtful that Woods will beat his record for the number of Majors. An interesting article but largely subjective. No doubt whatsover that Tendulkar is one of the greats. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 71.

    Trebor,
    For every stat of Bradman's -one can put up some for Sachin.
    Bradman was good among the amateurs of his era.
    Tendulkar is King since then.

    Also, by your warped logic, Jonathan Trott is undeniably the 2nd Greatest batsman of all time. Period. Full Stop. No arguments.

    Google this. Written by the venerable John Woodcock way back in 2002. Something he still maintains;
    "Only Sachin Tendulkar can equal Don Bradman"

  • Comment number 72.

    Great blog! Some more to consider to add to Ali, Sachin, Pele, Tiger and Bradman: Redgrave, Nicklaus (not sure how Tiger gets ahead of him), Eddy Merckx (way more dominant than Armstrong); Ed Moses (I know he is not a team player, but 102 consequtive victories has to put him right up there) Roger Federer; and of couirse, Gretzky.

  • Comment number 73.

    Mark Sutcliffe - "An interesting article but largely subjective." Of course it's subjective, by its very nature it is because there's no way I can prove anything. As for Marciano having a better record than Ali, in no sport do statistics lie more than in boxing. Terry Marsh retired undefeated, but no-one in their right mind would ever claim he was the greatest light-welterweight ever.

  • Comment number 74.

    Ben - I do agree it is a very narrow definition, but in my mind true sporting greatness is someone that who transcends the sport, and by that nature a narrow definition fits what I believe should be a very small list of people. I guess your Zindane point is however where there is a Beckham sized fly in the ointment of my arguement. Beckham was a very good football player and is certainly known throughout the world, but he was certainly not better than Zindane, and it would be difficult to class Beckham as a sporting great. So I take your point, not sure I'd want to increase my very small list though.

  • Comment number 75.

    All time greatest will be those that appear unbeatabale or untouchable, so I'd go Ed Moses, T Woods, Stephen Hendry and Bradman as the closest you'll get to unbeatable.

  • Comment number 76.

    Anybody remember Ed Moses? Wasn't he un-beaten at 400m hurdles for something like 160 races?

  • Comment number 77.

    Time magzine has written something for Sachin Tendulkar,
    "When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan first time to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam." .. isn't he a gem ?

  • Comment number 78.

    politedebate...I think to compare Sachin to Don is injustice to both. They were both great cricketers..the cricket at that time cannot be compared to present time. Yeah you might compare to contemporary cricketers like Ricky Ponting but even that is not fair as he played for a much superior team all throughout 90s and 2000s unlike sachin. So its acknowledge his greatness and leave it there !

  • Comment number 79.

    This is madness...

    Tendulkar is not the greatest cricketer, let alone the greatest sportsmen. Bradman is so far ahead of Sachin it's ridiculous. Do you also realise that Sachin Tendulkar has barely ever been ranked the no.1 batsman in the world. His greatness is all about his longevity. If I were to pick a player (at their peak) to play in my team then Bradman and Viv Richards would be my first two picks. My next pick would be Ponting (who has a far superior average and is the most successful captain in history).

    Also, how can Ali be the greatest sportsman when he isn't even the greatest boxer?? He gets a LOT of votes for his 'personality', admit it.

    Also, Lance Armstrong is not the greatest cyclist. That is Eddie Merckx.

    It's media hype vs reality, and unfortunately we are all too often brainwashed.

  • Comment number 80.

    Wonderful article for a true legend. The truth is even if Tendulkar had retired 10 years ago, he would have been considered one of the greatest in sport. That's how good he has been but to push it for another 10 years at the level, and then only to get better towards the last 2 years, he has really closed out any argument who the best has been in modern cricket. Lara was often labeled alongside him, and no denying he was trully wonderful just like Tendulkar. But sports is more than just technique and skill, and Tendulkar has demonstrated just that. His special gift combined by desire, hunger, determination and temperament.

    He is easily 2nd best after Don. No arguments, followed by the rest.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am Indian and following cricket since childhood, he is not the greatest yet because of

    of just one reason

    1) Not his fault, but we have not won many matches where he has scored 100's

    But, If he scores a hundred and if we win the game against Srilanka, No doubt, He is the Greatest player cricket has ever won.

    If Indian does not win this world cup, there will be always questions abouts Sachin's Greatness.




  • Comment number 82.

    I agree with all the points that you have considered, but Sachin, is the greatest. He has 99 centuries in international cricket! Not only this, but he is playing for India where the game is followed religiously. I think you downplay the amount of pressure he is under to deliver each and every time he puts his pads on. Just an example would be the 1000's of people that followed MS Dhoni to get a haircut after 2007 T20 WC win.
    He eclipses all others with 20 years at the top of his game. He still shows no sign of slowing down, but I have a feeling he will retire at the end of a (victorious) WC campaign, after a magnificent 100 in front of his home crowd (someone pass me the tissues).

  • Comment number 83.

    Terry Marsh..... my word. At least you didn't mention if Calzaghe is a boxing great, a topic which has filled the BBC boxing forums up forever. Anyway I digress.

  • Comment number 84.

    @15 "Anyone here remember Shane Warne? Certainly the greatest bowler in my lifetime"

    This shows how difficult it is to measure greatness. Look at the stats and Murali beats Warne on everything. More wickets at a lower average, strike rate and economy in both ODIs and tests.

  • Comment number 85.

    Your article has certainly started a real debate. I have not read all the comments but don't remember reading anything about Spitz, Thorpe or Phelps. Perhaps swimming doesn't have the mass appeal of some of the other sports but they certainly work hard to get that good. What about multi-sports people e.g. C.B.Fry? Now that's an interesting (but different) subject.

  • Comment number 86.

    IMO longevity is only helpful in determining greatness as we can judge the athlete against many different challenges, and see them cope with diminishing physical prowess. in itself its surely not a quality. also "inventivness"(a stoke of originality/genius)-fx ronnie o sullivan is a great, despite a (comparitve) lack of world championships?

  • Comment number 87.

    @ Susanna_Reid_is_nice

    I'll agree with your assessment of many of that list of English greats, but you must surely accept that Sir Steve Redgrave can be considered a true great, with his 5, count them, 5 gold medals in consecutive Olympic games.

    The whole Tendulkar vs Bradman argument is moot. They played in completely different eras, but both are shoe-ins for any all time cricket XI in my opinion. Peoples opinion will be forever split over who had the better accomplishments, but they are both well worthy of being called "great".

  • Comment number 88.

    #84 This shows how difficult it is to measure greatness. Look at the stats and Murali beats Warne on everything. More wickets at a lower average, strike rate and economy in both ODIs and tests.

    -----------

    The thing is, you then have to consider how many wickets Murali took against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who Warne hardly ever played against. As a test bowler I would take Warne every time, although Murali is certainly exceptional as well.

  • Comment number 89.

    Not a cricket fan per se but wnated to comment on lennox Lewis appearing at position 18 on Sugar's greatest boxers list. Position 18 in the entire history of boxing??!! Are we talking about the same fighter who unceremoniously and unashamedly, ducked Iron Mike Tyson repeatedly when Mike was at his peak, and then fought and 'beat' him when he was well on his way down (after Douglas, Holyfield etc) Lewis should not even make the list unless it is greatest 'Cowards'

  • Comment number 90.

    @zippychuck77
    Tendulkar ranked No.1 for the first time in 1994.
    Then on and off for the next decade he was around No.1
    Slipped off a bit in the mid 2000s due to several injuries.
    Now 17 years later (Yup -again SEVENTEEN years later) he is again No.1 (joint with Kallis)
    That 17 yrs is longer than the entire careers of the Likes of Lara ,Ponting,Dravid ,Kallis etc (and longer than Bradman's actual playing span if you ignore his lost war years)

    So, at the VERY least, please try to get the rudimentary facts right.
    Cheers.

  • Comment number 91.

    all this about don bradman needs to be taken in context. he played at the time when there was no time limit on the length of a test, take 3 days for your 1st innings & another 3 days for your 2nd.
    only last night was talking about sme with a friend who 30 years ago use to talk with a old english player from the 30's who not only played against bradman at the Oval but caught him out for a duck. However the umpire (english) gave him not out & when questioned why not out he calmly replied" the crowd are here to see him not you son".
    if this happen only 3/4 times in his career were would his averages be then.

  • Comment number 92.

    Tut, tut, tut Ben! How could you have overlooked Arkle and Red Rum? They had to change the rulebook because Himself was so good, while Red Rum was not even the best horse of his era, but is still one of the greats purely because of his exploits in 5 Grand Nationals, outside of which, he did little of note.

  • Comment number 93.

    Can you be a true great in a minority sport? Cricket like Rugby is only played in a handful of countries (eight?) at the top level so why aren't we including crocket players in there as well. If you're going to argue about a billion Indians not being wrong I suspect there should be a fair few chinese table tennis players in there as well.

  • Comment number 94.

    Can we please stop adding up runs/centuries/wickets from tests and ODIs?

    Basically different units!

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    To illustrate why this fascinating subject will never be definitively answered, be honest, how many of you have heard of Brian Bevan? Brian (God rest his soul) was a rugby league player and remains the only person to be inducted into both the British and Aussie Rugby League Halls of Fame. He was commemorated on a stamp in 1995 and has a roundabout named after him! He scored 740 tries in 695 games for Warrington including over 100 hatricks. He once scored 72 tries in one season. Many of these stats will never be beaten yet he is hardly a household name like many of the people discussed.
    By the way, I consider Red Rum to be the best 'athlete' ever. Three times Grand National Winner and twice the runner-up. He only came second because the handicapper made him carry a large anvil!

  • Comment number 97.

    Saw his first Test innings in England in 1990, when he was 16.

    Looked extraordinarily good for that age that day & has been pretty much as good for the vast majority of the last 22 years.

    Wonder if both he & Mura can bow out with something special in the Final?

  • Comment number 98.

    Every sport has its flavor and it's unique , every great sports person in his sport has his unique touch with which he has become great/ greatest. But it needs lot more than sporting skill to be called as GOD of a sport which is little bit explained by writer.People say Don is don but has he played in subcontient pitches, has he played in SA, west indies if yes how much. But he has played only and majorly with england, then how you call him greatest. Nobody knows, if don has the opportunity he would have excelled/ or not . Now sachin has excelled in all of it adding to it he never gone of his mind because of his popularity and many such things which makes him GOD. Well GOD is greatest.

  • Comment number 99.

    The game of cricket is more than just scoring runs. Why has no-one mentioned Sir Ian as one of the greatest cricketing personalities;-run-getter, bowler,phenomenal slip fielder, entertainer and charity worker, not to mention his prowess as a semi-professional footballer and better than average golfer!!

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't really care if SRT is regarded as the greatest ever. What matters is seeing ONE of the greatest, performing as often as possible - for he'll be retired a long time. Yes, his records will probably be broken (some day), and as his playing days disappear into history he'll get even better (if that's possible) according to all those who will say "I was there", but why not just enjoy the talents of a man with the hopes and expectations of a nation on his shoulders and acknowledge his humility under this intense pressure?

    Saturday will see also the passing of Muttiah Muralidaran into international retirement, and I for one think cricket will be all the poorer without such immense, immense men. Be grateful for the age of the internet - their feats will live longer than most.

 

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