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A letter to Sachin

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Ben Dirs | 12:00 UK time, Friday, 16 March 2012

Dear Sachin,

You don't know me, although I do know you. Actually, I don't really know you, but like hundreds of millions of others, I think I do. Which is why you can't leave the house. Sorry about that, but take it as a compliment: that's what happens when you are one of 'the few'.

What, you might ask, are 'the few'? Well, the way I see it, 'the few' are those sportspeople so great - the greatest of the great, if you will - that they can't even pop out for... well, anything actually, for fear of being trampled to death in Morrisons (or wherever it is celebrities pretend they do their shopping in India).

If it's any consolation, we've got a bloke in our country - well, he used to live here, before he outgrew Morrisons - called David Beckham, who might know how you feel. But, between me and you, with Becks, it's as much about his looks, which means he's not strictly one of 'the few' at all, more a very good footballer who they let in because he has a nice face.

Sorry, that didn't come out right, but please don't take it the wrong way. What I'm trying to say is, with you, it's all about the talent (and maybe a little bit about the face). But anyway, your skipper Mahendra Dhoni has got the 'Indian Becks' thing pretty much sewn up.

Apologies, I just realised I haven't actually told you why I got in touch... Congratulations on your 100th international hundred! And while I've your got attention, well done on winning the World Cup. And all those World Cup records you hold. Oh, and those 15,000 Test runs. And the other 18,260 in one-day internationals (sorry, by the time you get this, you'll have probably passed 20,000). Actually, I meant to ask, is there a batting record you don't hold?

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Tendulkar scored his first Test century against England in 1990 (UK users only)


Remember Maggie Thatcher? You probably don't, you were only a kid at the time, but she was our Prime Minister when you first toured England with India in 1990. The reason I mention her is that there used to be this great piece of graffiti on a wall somewhere in London which read: THATCHER OUT. To which someone had added: LBW B ALDERMAN.

My point being, Terry Alderman, who made Graham Gooch look silly in the 1989 Ashes, was still playing Test cricket when you started out - and he made his first-class debut in 1974. And now, 22 years after you made your Test debut (when I was 13, probably acting the goat in double history) you're still around. That, my friend, is what you call 'longevity'.

I saw you play at The Oval in 1990. Well, I saw you field. David Gower, a childhood hero, scored a ton that day. We loved Gower in England, thought he was great, but he wasn't one of 'the few', he just made us think he was with that gorgeous cover drive of his.

Of course, what I know now is that greatness is about more than looking willowy at the crease - it's far more about sheer weight of numbers. And while the unfurling of Gower's strokes resembled honey dripping off the back of a spoon, numbers-wise, he is but a delicate butterfly crushed under your steel-rimmed wheel. Then again, who isn't?

Brian Lara, maybe? Sorry to bring him up in the middle of what is essentially a love letter, but that lad could bat a bit, too. And many said he scored his runs with more style than you: as languid as Gower, but as rapacious as Bradman when it came to making runs.

But Lara called it quits five years ago, while you're still here after 22 years of unrelenting pressure, shouldering the expectations of billions, and it never managed to diminish you. When you call it a day, it will be on your own terms, and even some of your fellow 'few' (Lara, Diego Maradona, Babe Ruth) weren't able to do that.

They say things have got easier for batsmen in recent years - flatter tracks, smaller boundaries, not as many wicked fast bowlers on the prowl. But you made your debut against Wasim and Waqar and played against pretty much all the recent greats - Ambrose and Walsh, Donald and Pollock, McGrath and Warne, Muralitharan. You even played Test cricket against Sir Richard Hadlee, for pity's sake, and old 'Paddles' is now in his sixties.

You had a bit of a blip a few years back, in 2006, when England's quicks got after you and you kept getting hit. It was a bit like watching Muhammad Ali being bashed round the ring by a thrusting Larry Holmes. But while Ali was shot to pieces by that point, the following year you racked up 776 Test runs at an average of 55.4. Not much of a blip.

You know what somebody said to me the other day? "Tendulkar - great player, little bit dull." Bit out of order, to be honest. Dull - why? Because you don't abuse opponents? Or get boozed up in nightclubs? In more than two decades at the pinnacle of your sport, under the glare of more than a billion adoring countrymen and women, there has been barely a hint of controversy. That doesn't just make you a little wonder, that makes you pretty much a miracle.

This is getting a little bit embarrassing now - a little bit This Is Your Life, I didn't mean to come over all mawkish. But the thing is - and this is another thing that elevates you above the merely great - it is doubtful whether we will see your like again, because after you've gone, cricket, which is threatening to splinter into a thousand parts, may never be the same.

To play 188 Test matches... well, the mind boggles. And given the indifference towards Test cricket from many modern fans, surely no-one in the future will come close. Which means you could be one of Test cricket's last true superstars - like silent movie stars before 'talkies', a titan from a more innocent, more romantic, seemingly more lustrous age.

You know what someone once said about Chaplin? "It is doubtful any individual has ever given more entertainment, pleasure and relief to so many human beings when they needed it the most". Given how long you've been on the job, given how many people there are in your country and given the grinding poverty many of them still live in, I reckon you might just have trumped him. Which is why I wanted to say thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin (you don't know me)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Is this called classic?... one of the very good articles in the recent times.

  • Comment number 2.

    The best Ive seen in my lifetime, and he just keeps on giving. This is a milestone that I doubt will ever be surpassed. Well done Sachin, I cant wait to see you facing England in India in a few months!! Wonderful batsman.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well said ... i guess..more than the cricket records ..it's the fact that he was the feel good factor and a beacon of hope for millions of people for over 2 decades!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Well written blog.
    No words are enough to describe the greatness of Sachin Tendulkar.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice blog, is this what they call Bromance??
    I love ya Sach, well done fella

  • Comment number 6.

    Good article Ben Dirs,
    Look at sachin's gesture when he hit 100 of 100s , A real cool gentleman hats off, Nasar vettikkatil abudhabi

  • Comment number 7.

    Increidble player. Second only to bradman. Bradmans average of 99 compared to 49 surely makes him the best of all time.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good Article Ben, makes you realise just what a "superstar" he actually is. Hats off to you Sachin, truly one of the best I have ever seen, and your achievements are fantsatic. Well deserved.

  • Comment number 9.

    Sachin is the Best*. FACT.

    Get over it.

    *P.S. The Best batsmen I have seen in my lifetime.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh, Mr DIrs...


    "Actually, I meant to ask, is there a batting record you don't hold?"

    Try the highest score in first-class cricket. Oh, and the highest score in Test cricket (twice) for starters. It was scored by this chap you mention in the quote below...


    "But Lara called it quits five years ago, while you're still here after 22 years of unrelenting pressure, shouldering the expectations of billions, and it never managed to diminish you. When you call it a day, it will be on your own terms, and even some of your fellow 'few' (Lara, Diego Maradona, Babe Ruth) weren't able to do that."

    Tell me a time when Tendulkar had to shoulder the responsibility for the whole team. Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid, and others batted around Tendulkar. Lara at times had nobody, the series in Sri Lanka when he bettered Murali on home turf perhaps being the absolute peak. If we're talking expectations, Tendulkar didn't have anything really to follow. Lara came in and was the appointed man to carry on the Lloyd-Richards legacy. I'd say there was a lot more historical pressure on Lara whereas Tendulkar had a more individual pressure.

    Let's also talk captaincy. Tendulkar lasted 25 Tests as captain. His batting average is 4 runs lower than his current average. Lara captained a weak team for 47 Tests with a batting average of 57, some 6 runs higher than his final average. Many players see their batting form slide when taking on the captaincy. How many runs could Lara have scored if he hadn't had the pressure of captaincy upon him for a good third of his Test career?

    "You had a bit of a blip a few years back, in 2006, when England's quicks got after you and you kept getting hit. It was a bit like watching Muhammad Ali being bashed round the ring by a thrusting Larry Holmes. But while Ali was shot to pieces by that point, the following year you racked up 776 Test runs at an average of 55.4. Not much of a blip."

    Oh yes, 776 Test runs. Did 250 or so of those runs come against a useless Bangladesh side? I think they did. Indeed, his only two centuries for that year came against Bangladesh. Lies, damn lies, and stats!

    Tendulkar is remarkable for the quality of his batting over the years and for his longevity. Praise him for his own talents and don't try to reduce the achievements of a man like Lara through tedious comparisons.

    It's quite telling really that you can write all this prose about Tendulkar yet only mention one specific innings from 1990. When people talk of Lara, they can name the 375, they can name the 400, the 501, the 153* against Australia in the greatest Test of my lifetime, the knock in Australia...

  • Comment number 11.

    GOOD ARTICLE WHO EVER YOU ARE BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW YOU.

    SACHIN IS THE GREAT OF ALL TIMES

  • Comment number 12.

    I read that he said he wasn't thinking about the record. I believe him. It's not just Cricket that he excels at.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well done sachin the wait was worth it.

  • Comment number 14.

    A Sachin ton in vain...

  • Comment number 15.

    Hey Mr AndyPlowright

    Its not about Lara tonight. Its about Sachin. If you cant fathom it; go grab a couple of beers and sulk it out.

    If you cant respect Sachin for the cricketer and the human he is; do not read blogs about him.

  • Comment number 16.

    Because of Sachin's and India's obsession with the hundreth 100, India were rightly beaten by Bangladesh. Sachin scored sufficiently slowly to ensure the likes of Dhoni didnt have enough balls to take the score over 300. Ironic but Sachin's feat was ultimately detrimental to the objectives of the team.. they say no individual is greater than the team, but clearly that doesnt apply to Sachin. I wonder if he will be roundly criticised by the Indian media???

  • Comment number 17.

    #10 Dear Mr Plowright, I think it was Voltaire who said of someone "having failed to succeed in the world, he took his revenge by speaking ill of it". Why don't you spend some time finding out the author and subject of the quote while the rest of us spend just a short moment in reverence of a great cricketer and a great man.

    Dear Ben, Shakespeare wrote "comparisons are odorous". Mr Tendulkar's skill, achievements and longevity stand as testaments to themselves, they don't need futile comparisons with anybody or anything else.

  • Comment number 18.

    Vikram:

    The article praises Tendulkar (unlike you, I am not on first name terms with him so shall use his surname rather than first name) and features a slight deconstruction of Lara. I find that rather boring hence me putting the case forward. If reading isn't beyond you, you might observe my penultimate paragraph:

    "Tendulkar is remarkable for the quality of his batting over the years and for his longevity. Praise him for his own talents and don't try to reduce the achievements of a man like Lara through tedious comparisons."

    There, can you fathom that? Praise every man for his own achievements.

    @17.Cedders_B:

    Sir, I agree with you on the comparison aspect which is why I decided to take Mr Dirs to task for his comparison of Lara versus Tendulkar. When the blog author does this, it's only fair to give the other side of the story. Tendulkar became a great batsman under a different kind of pressure to that which Lara played under. Both became as stupendous cricketers with very different styles and under very different circumstances.

    If you can point out where I speak ill of Tendulkar, go ahead. I refer you to the same paragraph I wrote that I quoted above to Vikram.

  • Comment number 19.

    sachin is the best

  • Comment number 20.

    Tendulkar is a great player and a credit to the game. Wonderful to watch and should be appreciated for his grace and skill at least as much as his very impressive statistics.

  • Comment number 21.

    Benjamin Sir

    you don't know me & I think I know you. Nicely done & every single word of this. My admiration for Sachin is not for the greatness on the field but for the way he remain so humble through out.

  • Comment number 22.

    Everyone has their favourites, I lean more towards Bradman on the greatest of all time list, Lara I feel sits even with SRT, they are great for different reasons.

    I do however have the utmost respect for SRT for what he has achieved, and over the period he has achieved it.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm with you Benji on your paean to the Little Miracle ....

  • Comment number 24.

    Fabulous piece, Ben. One of the best I've seen. You have paid a tribute with journalistic skill that is so befitting the 'Little Master's ' place in the pantheon of sports.His dignity has so much to teach our pampered soccer stars or tennis racket-smashers. A particular rant at the camera in South Africa comes to mind. I saw him that day at Old Trafford in 92 and later watched him play for Yorks too. I feel it was his presence there in a County that encouraged more of the Asian youth to enter the English county cricket world, and as are result we now see Panesar, Bopara,Patel, Mahmood, et al to name a few, to England's benefit.

  • Comment number 25.

    He made his test debut before some international players were even born. He made his first century before some of them were born. That's staggering.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello Mr. AndyPlowright,

    Well speaking of your comparison of Lara & Tendulkar in terms of averages while being a captain, allow me to say my opinion on this.

    When Lara was the captain, there isn't the 100billion population in his country nor the billions around the world watching, judging & idolising the player & game of cricket. But when Sachin (is the captain) plays, it was there and it will be there as long as Sachin plays. You think Lara can endure the expectations & perform for so long? May be that's one of the reason he quit his career when he actually can contribute for a couple of seasons more. Later he went on playing ICL and all other leagues though.

    Well in India, Cricket is a religion and Sachin is God. When WI(Lara as a captain) was playing test cricket, honestly how many people really expected them to win? But when Sachin plays, there is this pressure. Lara has nothing to lose when he played cos no one really expected them to win the matches. Hence Lara played with all the freedom without weighing the price of his wicket. Its a different case altogether when Sachin plays. Personally I would love to see WI'ans winning and want to see the golden cricket era again in the WI team. Like every one, I wish but it ain't going to happen at least in the foreseeable future

    All I want to say is before judging between Sachin & Lara, consider the factors of pressure and carrying the burden & expectations of 100billion people.

    If you want facts n figures, just the way you mentioned 375, the 400, the 501, the 153*, I can quote a pageful of figures. What do you want? 22yrs of International Cricket or 100 hundreds or first 200 in ODI or leaving Shane Warne with some nightmares or Wisden naming him the second greatest batsmen (in 2002) after Sir Bradman or the fact that his batting style handicapped (not literally though) some of the best bowlers in his days (read the comments from Donald, Pollock, Warne, Jason Gillespie, Saqlain Mustaq, Wasim Akram n co.). I am afraid its nearly impossible for me gather all the great names who ever spoke about Sachin and quote here.

    P.S: Every player is special, but the longevity and the burden of being the God in the hearts of every Indian, makes Sachin my all time best batsman. Now don't pick on my comments saying he din't performed well in this time nor he did scored against minnows.

    Now just cherish the fact that we are alive when Sachin scored this near impossible ton of tons. May be in future when the humans learn how to colonize on the planet of Mars, there will be one player to surpass Sachin's achievement.

  • Comment number 27.

    Good article. The only part I take issue with is this:

    "And given the indifference towards Test cricket from many modern fans, surely no-one in the future will come close. "

    I know that some people are making noise about the death of test cricket with the advent of T20, but I just don't see it. The England-Pakistan test series was much more enthralling than the ODIsT20 games and even the recent whitewash of India by Australia attracted more fans to the grounds than the ODIs e.g. MCG Boxing Day test had 70000, 52000, 40000, and 26000, compared to 25000 and 28000 for the two ODIs involving Australia there in the tri-series with India and Sri Lanka. The figures for the Adelaide test are similar, with the best day's attendance (Day 3, 35000) considerably better than the ODIs there. The T20 attendances for the Aus-India game were very high, but the domestic "Big Bash" final in Australia had an attendance in Perth that was lower than any of the test attendances. People still prefer to watch test cricket over anything else. I think no one in the future will come close to 188 tests because no one is going to play from the age of 16 to 38, as opposed to the apparent indifference of modern fans.

  • Comment number 28.

    I was as pleased reading this article, as I was reading about the little masters 100th century.
    Benjamin, Keep it Up!
    Lets hear some more, and not just about Sachin!!

  • Comment number 29.

    hi
    AndyPlowright
    keep your view about sachin in your mind....
    go to india and try to convince 1.2 billions people that lara is better than sachin
    u might convince your self and your family or some of your foolish friends....1.2 billions people are not mad who workship him...even sir richrds said once sachin is best....so keep control on your emotion if u dont like sachin do not read articals about him ...and thanks the author of the blogs....sachin we love u....and always will.....long live legend

  • Comment number 30.

    @#10 - AndyPlowright

    I don't know how long you have followed cricket, but since you remember so many knocks in Lara's lifetime, I find it strange that you remember a period of Tendulkar's career when he had Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly around him and yet conveniently forget that for the best part of a decade in the early 90s the Indian team was really just a one-man team built around a Tendulkar in his 20s only. As for great Tendulkar knocks... here are some off the top of my head - the 200 in ODIs, that 98 against Pakistan in the WC (Akhtar was never the same again as a bowler), that 148 at Perth, the two Desert Storm hundreds... I could go on and on really

    I can understand you rate Lara higher, but coming on here and taking offence at the writer mentioning the fact that he quit 5 years ago is pretty stupid imo... And was it not Lara who himself said that Tendulkar was the superior batsman of the two?

    Fyi - he never wanted the captaincy, it was literally forced at him since India was a one-man team then (just in case you have forgotten again). And if you truly want to understand the pressure he operates under, just try visiting India when a tournament is on...

    Sincerely,
    I dont know you, and am quite glad about it as well!

  • Comment number 31.

    OK Tendulkar has scored 100 international hundreds but I wouldn't put him anywhere near the top of my list of the best batsman of his generation. That accolade has to go to Steve Waugh. Not the most stylish batsman of his generation but if you wanted someone to score a hundred to save your life it would have to be Steve Waugh. The hundred's he scored almost all resulted in a win for his side. You certainly can't say that about Tendulkar as the win percentage of India especially outside the subcontinent is lower throughout Tendulkar's career than that of Australia. Lots of commentators forget that in any game the most important thing is winning looking good simply does not count.

  • Comment number 32.

    Well its a good article but yes i agree u sudnt criticize someone to make some other's feat look great.. To b honest theres a lot of respect for both Sachin Tendulkar n Brian Lara n they share the same mutual respect too.. N for those who r criticizing his innings yesterday sud know wat pressure he absorbs n he is always under great pressure of expectations from the billions of cricket fans all over the world.. So please dont criticize but savour the moment instead :)

  • Comment number 33.

    @AndyPlowright: I respect the fact that we should not berate others to raise the profile of some (though I am sure the author of this blog did not intend any hurt towards Lara).
    Still, if you are talking about expectation - i.e. Lara walking in and being expected as an heir to Viv Richards, and Tendulkar not having to deal with such an expectation, then here are two points
    1) the expectation of more than a billion Indian cricket fans
    2) Tendulkar has always claimed that watching India lift the 1983 World Cup was one of his inspirations. Do you remember a certain Sunil Gavaskar from that team? Then the owner of the tag 'little master', Gavaskar's class provided the benchmark for people like Tendulkar to be judged with. And I think everyone agrees that he's proved his class against that expectation...hence the fact that Tendulkar is now the owner of the 'little master' tag.

  • Comment number 34.

    To each and every cricket fan:
    Few facts:
    For Test matches - Sachin Tendulkar has scored more runs than Brian Lara against all Test nations except England and Pakistan. In terms of Sachin Tendulkar's batting averages, he has the better batting average against two cricket giants of his era - Australia and West Indies

    For ODI matches - Sachin Tendulkar has scored more runs than Brian Lara against all test nations. In terms of batting averages, he has the better average for 5 out of 9 Test nations (and its not 6 because he has 35.73 vs South Africa as opposed to Brian Lara's 35.85!!)

    Honestly, do you think Brian Lara could bat against the bowling greats such as Curtly Ambrose, and Malcolm Marshall when he was just 20???....Probably NOT!

    Enough said!...Just enjoy the game and in the spirit of game here's a quote by Brian Lara: "Sachin is a genius," said Lara. "I'm a mere mortal."

  • Comment number 35.

    Are you guys stupid calling this article good? Can you not see this prat has written an article that has given a back handed compliment whilst really spurting out the usual BBC ethnocentric racist drivel. Move down to the last two paragraphs and read again, if your going to write a letter that's suppose to compliment then do it properly.

    Typical BBC behavior, how long can they get away with treating ethnic minorities with such distaste on all their platforms?

  • Comment number 36.

    Weird.

  • Comment number 37.

    Don't like these sort of articles because they sound like an obituary when, in fact, Tendulkar is less than half way through his life.

    As for comparisons, I'm grateful that I've lived in an era when I can watch the likes of Tendulkar, Lara, Warne and Murali. Fifty years from now they will be mentioned in the same in the same breath as Bradman and my grandkids will be able to tell their friends that their grandad saw them live.

  • Comment number 38.

    Blimey, a cricket blog.

    @35. I followed your instructions; scrolled back to reread the last two paras. Frankly I don't see where the 'distaste' comes in.

    Re: blog.

    I think Test cricket is making a comeback in terms of the priorities of paying fans. I can't stand T20 but realise its cashcow role. ODIs still get dreary in the middle overs.

    But well done Sachin Tendulkar.

    Personally I'm a Dravid man.

  • Comment number 39.

    I posted a status update on Facebook yesterday upon hearing of his 100th hundred and said calling the man a legend doesn't do him justice for everything he's done for cricket and accomplished in the sport. If a mere 16 year old lad hadn't have played that Test Match against Pakistan in 1989, where would Indian cricket be today? Where would world cricket be today?
    A man who has inspired not only many Indian's but many cricketers and supporters from many countries, races and genders. I had the pleasure of seeing him playing in an ODI against England at Bristol back in 2007. Unfortunately, though, the Little Master only scored 99 majestic runs that afternoon.
    Almost every generation has had one of these golden cricketers. From W.G.Grace to Sir Donald Bradman, to Sir Garfield Sobers, to Sir Vivian Richards. Sachin is the golden cricketer of our generation, and selfishly, yet understandably, not one of us is willing a retirement to occur at any time in the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 40.

    Is this letter written by a child !???surprise that nobody tallk about the great achievement of Bangladesh by beating India . Everytime Sachin scores century India lose the game,

  • Comment number 41.

    @35 stop trolling, this is a bbc website for sport lovers to discuss events, not for trolls.

  • Comment number 42.

    im amazed not much has been made about india actually losing the game and bangladesh chasing down over 280 to win against their poor bowling attack, just shows how much stats skew the actually facts of the game eh

    whilst a wonderfull player one of the greats of all time and having countless records i wonder what his ratio to 100's scored to wins is compared to the lights of other modern greats, kallis, waugh, hayden, inzamam, lara etc

  • Comment number 43.

    You've written some rubbish in your time Ben, but this takes the biscuit.

    I don't know why you didn't just bother to title it "Sachin is the greatest" and then proceed to list every single stat ,known to man, about him.

    Lara may not have the stats, apart from the glaringly obvious 501, 400 and 375, but he was a much more entertaining player and he DID retire on his own terms....rather than scratch around at the crease for over a year in pursuit of a meaningless, manufactured stat that was attained against the one of the lowest ranked cricket-playing nations in a Mickey Mouse Cup.

    Anybody who thinks Tendulkar is better than Bradman is quite clearly unwell. I'm glad this is over now because the rest of the world outside of India can go back to watching cricket without this being mentioned every 5 seconds. Lest we forget, cricket is a TEAM game....something Tendulkar seems to have forgotten over the last year.

  • Comment number 44.

    Sachin, You are the best global well known player and ambassador to the game of cricket. Wish you all the best in future.
    Madan Badale

  • Comment number 45.

    All good fun comparing batsmen, who's best and all.
    Fact is the guy has a ton of international tons.
    The only thing to add other than to offer congratulations is, "what took you so long to get the last one Sachin? ;)

    Hats off to a great batsman

  • Comment number 46.

    How lucky we have been to see his like and appreciate him in full flow, he deserves to play his way to a well earned retirement.

    He has played through a cricketing era against and with so many modern day legends of cricket. In a best of team he would be one if not THE first name on the team sheet.

    Thanks Mr Tendulkar

  • Comment number 47.

    PS Brings back memories of the good old days in BBC Blog land. Thanks Ben

  • Comment number 48.

    Agree with the sensible few on here that this article was a load of unbalanced grovelling rubbish - it's only plus point is that it brought out the usual laughably hysterical reactions from all the raving Tendulkarphiles. Statistically he's in the same bracket as Ponting, Lara & Kallis and the bleatings of the 1.2 billion mentioned above aren't going to change that.

  • Comment number 49.

    If Sachin wants to avoid attention he should move to America. NO one will bother him. No one will know what he plays. And if he mentions cricket they will think he is an entomologist.

  • Comment number 50.

    A few replies to those who'd like to see me erected on a post in the manner of Life of Brian...

    @26. Scholesy27.

    'Lara had nothing to lose'

    Poppycock. He was the appointed heir to the rich West Indies legacy, one that placed the West Indies at the top of the tree and possibly as the greatest team of all time, and had to watch the old guard retiring and nobody really come up to take their place. Plenty of peopel expected them to win. Go and watch that 1999 Barbados Test against Australia and say that there was no pressure on him.

    @30.Arpit_RedDevil.

    I've followed cricket for over 30 years. Your assertion that Tendulkar was alone for the best part of a decade in the early 90s is wrong. You had the like of Sidhu and Azhar still playing by the mid 90s, not to mention Kapil Dev, with Shastri and Vengsarkar, hardly batting slouches, playing in the early part of the 90s as well. Compare that to the people Lara batted with for the West Indies. Utterly no comparison.

    You're utterly erroneous in saying that I rate Lara higher. I rate neither player above the other. Tendulkar is a master of the willow and his longevity is remarkable. Lara is like Warne: statistically inferior to someone else in terms of runs/wickets but the player I'd pay money to watch over their statistically superior rival.

    FYI: Did Lara really want the captaincy either when he returned for a second spell?


    @33. Bibhash.

    Sheer number of Indian fans is indeed a pressure. So is the pressure of a huge cricketing legacy, one which took in performance on the field and showing the world how wonderful black athletes were. Tendulkar had to deal with the billion Indian fans: LAra had to deal with a decade-long legacy and replacing some fine players almost singlehandedly.

    Undoubtedly Tendulkar has lived up to the Gavskar tag. He's utterly eclipsed Gavaskar in my eyes, not just with runs, but with his conduct on and off the field.

    @35. Var00n.

    Simply scoring the highest number of runs doesn't make you the best. Murali has taken more wickets than Warne yet there is a fairly common consensus on who is the best bowler of the two. Michael Schumacher won more F1 championships than Senna yet only a madman would rank the German ahead of the Brazilian. Performances have to be put into context.

    The Lara quote matters not one jot. Go and check out Steve Waugh's comments:

    "But I would certainly put Lara on a par. When Lara was switched on and really wanted to do something, he was the most dangerous batsman I've ever played against, he was almost impossible to bowl to.
    "Tendulkar, you know every time you play against him it's going to be hard work, but Lara was hot and cold. Generally very hot against Australia, but he was cold against some of the other player nations where he didn't respect the attack enough. He needed a challenge to get the best out of him."

    Waugh's words are well-chosen.

  • Comment number 51.

    Sachin is the greatest batsman of my lifetime. A fantastic player. This cannot be disputed.

    However, when did we start combining ODI and test statistics- we seem to have created a statistic for him.

    Does anyone else find this frustrating?

  • Comment number 52.

    I love the eloquence of the BBC comments.

    oh, and well to Sachin!

  • Comment number 53.

    We'll never see another superstar in cricket?! Are you joking? Laughable. Worst article this century!

  • Comment number 54.

    Sachin, don't stop playing just because you got the 100 100's. The ability to last so long at the top and sustain the level of play has to be the most impressive aspect of your cricket.

    By the way it was Terry Alderman wasn't it not B Alderman? The aussie bowler whose slow wobblers got Gooch and the rest of the batters out time after time.

  • Comment number 55.

    a test ton every 6 innings. remarkable.

    would still be behind mark lathwell in a greatest ever though

  • Comment number 56.

    In his book 'The Top 100 Cricketers of All Time', Christopher Martin-Jenkins rated Tendulkar number six behind Bradman, Grace, Sobers, Warne and Hobbs, making him the finest batsman of the post-war era.

    In order to put some of the statistics into perspective, as of February 2011, India had played more ODIs (764) than any other country (although only a shade more than Australia), and Tendulkar had played in 444 of these. Also the first one-thousand Test matches spanned 107 years, while the next one-thousand have been completed since 1984.

    That being said, one hundred international centuries is a truly fine achievement, and is a testament to Tendulkar's technique, temperament, fitness, long-term consistency and appetite for cricket. In ODIs, he has averaged a century every ten innings, and among batsmen who have scored more than fifteen centuries in this form of the game, only the recently retired Ricky Ponting, Herschelle Gibbs and Chris Gayle have come close to that rate of scoring. In Test cricket his record for scoring Test runs and centuries is as exceptional as compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's was in his day. Tendulkar has played more Tests against South Africa and Sri Lanka than any other player, and scored more Test centuries against Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh than any other player.

    My hope is that Tendulkar bats on without his team-mate Rahul Dravid and completes two-hundred Test matches. Like Muralitharan and Bradman, Tendulkar has set records which will stand for a very long time...

  • Comment number 57.

    Sachin Tendulkar is the best batsman I watched whilst growing up. Comparisons between him and Lara are often unfair, but almost always inevitable. For me, it comes down to this:
    If I had to pick one of Tendulkar or Lara to watch for entertainment, I would chose Lara at his best, because you never quite knew what would happen next. That's not meant as an insult at all; Lara would play outrageous shots to balls that Sachin would play text book shots to.
    If I had to pick one of Tendulkar or Lara to bat for my life, I would chose Sachin. Why? Because in my opinion, Sachin was a little more reliable in defence and less likely to give away his wicket.

    Having said that, I don't want to turn this in to a blog about who the better batsman is. This should be about Tendulkar. His 100 100s in international cricket is a great achievement and he deserves all of the plaudits that come his way. Many sportsmen and women have done great things whilst their team has lost, and this game was no different. But Tendulkar's achievement was out of this world.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ben - nice blog. Provocative. I like the conceit too (in the literary sense) but fear that it might be lost on a few...

    @ AndyPlowright - well argued, articulated points, but if I were on the field offering a few well chosen words of sledging - you have bitten!! - I don't think I'm attributing any more sporting nouse to Ben than he deserves, to say that he knows enough about cricket to have really engaged in the 'who's the best' debate, which will run from here until eternity...

    For my two-penn'orth, I'm sorry that Tendulkar got there in a losing cause, and ultimately, a pretty meaningless game. That for me might be the only question (probably inevitable given the tendencies of the BCCI to hold millions of games) when all the dust settles in the years to come. How many 'great', and I mean great in the context of outstanding, match winning, head and shoulders above, amazing innings (not just 100s) there were... Hence previous comments on Lara and Steve Waugh.

    @ R Brooker (and other lovers of the game, including Andy P and Ben I would expect) - a really wonderful piece of cricket writing by Ed Smith on Rahul Dravid I feel honour bound to circulate:

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/557122.html

  • Comment number 59.

    @58:Quick_single

    Yes, Ed Smith's piece on Dravid is a fabulous piece of writing. the double Ed combination of Smith and Cowan, along with Aakash Chopra, have shown that cricket is still at the top of the tree in terms of players who can pen intelligent thoughtful offerings. No other sport can demonstrate such literary wealth to my mind.

    You use the word 'context' which is exactly the point I made earlier. 100 centuries in international cricket is an amazing feat but in what context? To have the 100th century registered in a meaningless game which India lost mens you have to analyse the context of the feat. It brings to mind the number of people who scoffed at the praise for Flintoff when he retired when they looked at bare stats alone. In his case, they didn't tell the whole story. Flintoff was an impact player, the man who could open doors when nobody else could. I remember him bowling in a Test in India, creating a great deal of pressure that eventually led to Harmison taking the wicket when the batsman, whom I think it was Yuvraj Singh, gave in to temptation. No statistic can measure Flintoff's worth in that duel yet those he played with knew what he contributed.

    For me, Lara's 153* not out against Australia in 1999 remains the best innings I've seen in my lifetime. Some kind soul put 40 minutes worth of highlights of the last day online on that site and it is truly scintillating cricket watching Lara fending off McGrath, Gillespie bowling as well as he ever did in his career (now there's an underrated guy!), and two legspinners in MacGill and Warne. Waugh's words that I quoted earlier alluded to Lara being the man to rise to a challenge. Grinding out records wasn't his style. One could say it isn't the West Indian way whereas in India hard toil for great reward (Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Kumble for instance) is more the way. You could go further and argue that part of the problem for India is that the new generation aren't being brought up in that tradition. Someone like Vinod Kambli for instance in the past was way ahead of his time. He was flashy, brash, and somewhat at odds with Indian cricket as it was. Fast forward to now and you could see him in the IPL slapping all sorts over the ropes.

    It does amuse me that so many people think I'm anti-Tendulkar. I'm not at all. He is a man of incredible gifts and, remarkable though his run scoring is, I find it more remarkable that he's remained so level-headed despite the fame, adulation, and monetary wealth that has come to him through it.

  • Comment number 60.

    @GreatWhitePathan - Kohli scored slowly as well. plus you know there is something called bowling and 10 others were also playing along with Sachin. Blaming 1 person for a team defeat is so immature and that too a centurian is absurd.
    btw, this is a nice intersting article to read and finally Well done Sachin.

  • Comment number 61.

    good read...summing up his career with facts and figures but in a very entertaining way!

  • Comment number 62.

    I have watched Indian batsmen from Vijay Merchant to Sachin Tendulkar. No one has impressed me more than Merchent for his classic style and fluency. After all he has the highest average among Indians in first class cricket. Mushtaq, his partner, was the supreme entertainer with deft strokes of the bat. Manjrekar was another perfectionist but it was Dravid who surpassed them with grit and determination. Gavaskar, with crisp strokes, was the great run getter until Sachin came along. In the subcontinent Inzemam, with his immaculate timing, is hard to beat. Who is best among them all is a toss up.

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

    Guha*
    belongs*

  • Comment number 65.

    A world of cricket lovers breathed a sigh of relief when they found out on Friday about the great mans century of centuries. I just hope he continues to play on as long as he can, he is still sublime to watch and I strongly believe there is much more to come. He may be 38, but I am sure he can play on past 40. Congratulations, you are and will always be considered a true great.

 

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