Sachin, Sachin, The Little Master

The greatest batsman of the modern era, and probably the second greatest willow wielder of all time, has pulled up stumps. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has just completed his 200th and final Test match against the West Indies at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Out for 74 off 118 balls in his only knock in this game, caught at slip by Windies captain  Darren Sammy off the part-time bowling of Guyanese batsman Narsingh Deonarine. Of course India won this hastily arranged series 2-0. But the BCCI got this right. The great man deserved to finish his career with a 200th and final Test appearance at his home ground and not in a random South African Test venue. There’s every chance this could be the first and last time any player reaches his or her 200th Test match.

SR Tendulkar made his Test debut on the 15th of November 1989, aged 16, against Pakistan at the National Stadium in the Southern coastal Pakistani city of Karachi. He was bowled for 15 in his only innings of that game by a fellow debutante, Waqar Younis. Less than 12 months later Tendulkar made his maiden Test century, with an unbeaten 119 off 189 balls to help India draw a Test against England at Old Trafford, Manchester.

The young maestro’s next big challenge was the 1991/92 Test tour of Australia. 16 & 7 in the first Test at the ‘Gabba, 15 on Boxing Day at the MCG. Was the kid overrated? He batted well for 40 in the second dig at the ‘G before being well caught by Aussie skipper Allan Border from a skied shot from the bowling of Peter Taylor in what turned out to be Taylor’s final Test. This innings seemed to ignite the Tendulkar spark though as he joined Ravi Shastri in savaging an Australian attack that included a leg-spinning debutante by the name of S.K.Warne in the 3rd Test at the SCG. World cricket’s new 18 year old hero stroked a classic unbeaten 148 in India’s total of 483 in this drawn game. But this was a low, slow, spinning track. Like back home in India. Could the prodigy do this on more fast bowler friendly tracks? Only 6 & 17 in the 4th Test at Adelaide as the home team won by just 38 runs. But it was the 5th and final Test at the WACA Ground in Perth where the young Tendulkar came of age. Elevated to number 4 for the first time, the new sensation stroked a brilliant 114 off an attack the included McDermott, Hughes and Whitney all at their peak supported by a promising debutante in Victorian Paul Reiffel on a fast, bouncy WACA pitch. All Australians were converted.

The Tendulkar juggernaut rolled on. Many very good Test innings until greatness came in a golden 1996. 122 v England at Edgbaston, 177  v England at Trent Bridge and probably his best Test innings to this stage of his career, a sublime 169 against South Africa in a huge 282 run loss at Cape Town. The Little Master was now a superstar.

The 1996 World Cup in India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka only served to enhance the great man’s reputation. 127* v Kenya. 70 v the West Indies. 90 v Australia. 137 v Sri Lanka. 3 v Zimbabwe. 31 in the quarter final v Pakistan. 65 in the losing semi-final against Sri Lanka. Not his fault India didn’t progress to the final. The Little Master’s ODI prowess arguably hit it’s peak in the late nineties. No better performance than his 141 and 4/38 with the ball in the ICC Champions Trophy Quarter Final against Australia in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The brutal Tendulkar was best on display in an unbeaten innings of 155 against Australia at Chennai in 1997/98. Although carrying a shoulder injury, S.K. Warne was dominating the Indian batsmen with big spinning around the wicket leg breaks until the Little Master arrived at the crease and took charge. The Test was won on this performance.

Tendulkar dominated world cricket for the next decade. Great performances in all parts of the cricketing world. Even in a quiet series in Australia he could pull out an unbeaten 241, his highest score at the time, at the SCG. 11 months later he would reach his highest Test score of 248 against Bangladesh at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. His 51st and final Test century was a knock of 146 against South Africa at Cape Town on the 4th of January 2011. There were some lean times in the Test arena since then but the Little Master had more than enough credits in the bank to keep playing for as long as he wanted. The final Tendulkar International century came with an innings of 114 against Bangladesh at Mirpur on the 16th March 2012. His 49th ODI ton and 100th International ton. If anyone ever matches this feat they will be a special player indeed.

Sachin Tendulkar retires as the greatest ODI batsman ever and probably the second best Test bat ever. While he has been compared to the Don in batting style there are definite similarities in their demeanour and humbleness. Just watch Tendulkar walk out to bat in his final Test innings and you could be watching the Don walk out at the Oval in 1948. But even the Don didn’t have 1.2 Billion Indians and countless other cricket fans around the globe cheering him on for a last hurrah. Tendulkar handled the adulation beautifully. There were no scandals in his career. A model sportsman. India have some very talented batsmen coming through. Though Tendulkar is irreplaceable, there are quality replacements. Tendulkar’s legacy is leading India to Test respect and ODI World Cup glory with their 2011 win in the final over Sri Lanka.

Definitely the greatest Indian and Sub-Continental batsman ever. A great pair of hands in the field and under utilised bowler with his big swinging medium pacers and big spinning leg and off breaks. While his compatriot VVS Laxman and rival Brian Lara were better to watch, Tendulkar was Mr Reliable. He would make the runs to save your life if needed. Batting with the same ruthlessness as D.G.Bradman, and the same appetite for runs. What a player. Hail the Little Master.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar

Born 24/04/1973 Mumbai, India

Tests: 200 Runs: 15,921 Average: 53.78  51 x 100, 68 x 50   115 Catches  46 wickets @ 54.17  B/B: 3/10

ODI’s: 463  Runs 18,426  Average: 44.83  49 x 100, 96 x 50, 140 Catches,  154 wickets @ 44.48  B/B: 5/32

T20 Internationals: 1 10 runs @ 10.00  1 wicket @12.00

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic.

Comments

  1. Luke – well said. Tendulkar was/is a monument to the game. The only black spot I can think of was his apparent industrial deafness or amnesia during the Andrew Symonds affair a few years back, when Symonds was racially slurred on the field.

    Otherwise, a genius batsman. Seems like a champion little bloke too.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Luke Fantastic article and tribute to the little master and while , Dips is spot on re the Symonds affair we don’t no how much pressure he was put under to pretend deafness it was disappointing but overall the best batsman I have seen
    Thanks Luke it was important that some one wrote a article like this as always you delivered !

  3. Hear, hear, Luke.
    It’s been a pleasure to see SR Tendulkar bat, to understand the way he responds to pressure, and to not read about him in the society pages.
    Very well done him.

  4. Lovely piece Luke. I would never knock Sachin, but I rarely got excited watching him bat.
    That is why he is so much in the mould of what my Dad tells me Bradman was like. Tendulkar had a rock solid technique. Always played within the limitations of the pitch and the conditions. He accumulated runs with the detached air of an actuary doing risk analysis, and collecting the pennies because the pounds were too risky.
    So I would have him bat at #3 or #4 in my all time best side, but I would rather pay to watch Lara, Gower, Sobers, the Chappells or the Waughs.
    No where near as technically proficient, but always with that air of daring and style that was missing from Tendulkar.
    Tendulkar batted like McGrath bowled.

  5. Luke Reynolds says:

    Dips- Great observation re the Symonds affair. While he wasn’t the type to attract controversy, he also wasn’t the type to make a stand.
    Thanks Malcolm. Best batsman I have seen too.
    Cheers e.reg, what a humble man Tendulkar is.
    Thanks Peter. Like you I wasn’t always drawn to watch him bat, wheras if Laxman or Sehwag were batting for India I would be glued to the TV.The Bradman analogy seems spot on, from what I have read and the limited vision I have seen I would have rather seen Ponsford and McCabe bat. The best description of McGrath I have heard is that he was the world’s most remarkable unremarkable bowler. That could easily be applied to Tendulkar’s batting.

  6. Good stuff, Luke.
    The thing that most impressed me about Tendulkar was the fact
    that he was so unflappable. It seemed like nothing bothered him
    when he was batting. Yes, he could be accused of lacking that
    excitement factor, but I actually really enjoyed watching him bat.
    My view of Sachin was tainted somewhat by the “Monkeygate”
    incident and its aftermath (as pointed out by Dips), and I reckon
    Australia’s cricketers also changed their view of him after this. It is
    instructive that the next time he toured Australia, he did not once
    speak to the media, (which I mentioned at the time) http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/sachin/
    Still, there is no denying he is the greatest of our time.

  7. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Thanks for the fitting tribute Luke. I feel lucky to have been able to watch Tendulkar play and practise. I sat transfixed one afternoon at Manuka watching him practise in the nets . His concentration and application with every stroke was stunning. I enjoyed his farewell speech too , especially the part about his father advising him to work hard and take no shortcuts.

  8. Luke Reynolds says:

    Cheers Smokie. Sachin was unflappable, and was always impressed that no type of pitch seemed to faze him or affect his runmaking ability.

    Thanks Pamela. I have watched Sachin bat in the MCG nets a few times and his intensity in those sessions was great to watch. We have been lucky to see a player of his ilk in our lifetime.

  9. Great article. The master will be missed but was a batsman everyone wanted to watch and always played the game as it should be played.

    I hope we see him again one day in a coaching capacity.

    Considering my son carries his name I am a huge fan.

  10. Luke Reynolds says:

    Cheers Raj. Your son is well named. Any chance you will name your next son Vangipurapu Venkata Sai after the most stylish Indian (and probably world) batsman of all time?

    Will be very interesting to see what he does in cricket next, whether it’s coaching or any other role. He probably doesn’t need the money.

  11. There wont be another mate. 2 girls and a boy is it. VVS would have been a good one though.

  12. Troy Hancox says:

    Sachin was a master class!
    Every team would love to have him in their line up.
    Solid, played for his team/country. Never see him in the news for wrong doings etc.
    A quiet achiever. His record speaks for itself!

    Anyone who has 50 at the end of their batting career is a champion. Some have well above, but to sustain this for 200 test matches…… impressive!

    You have to judge the player with the current era. Times are changing.
    Would Bradman have sustained his ave playing as much cricket as today?
    He may well of bettered it?

    Who knows? Sachin a true gentleman, and legend of the game.

    A great article again! Thanks, i really enjoyed the read.

  13. Luke Reynolds says:

    Thanks Troy! Sachin was a superstar.
    Would have been very interesting to see how the Don would have gone in this era and in limited overs cricket. Very, very well no doubt. I’m a believer that a great player in one era would have been a great player in any other era.

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