Very few sportsmen are considered one of the greatest and most dominant in their discipline. Even fewer are worshipped to the point in which they are the obsession of a nation of over one billion people. Indian cricketing God, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has this distinction. The leading run scorer in Test and ODIs is less than a month away from the 21st anniversary of his Test match debut and continues to dazzle crowds all over the world. And, at the ripe old age of 37 years old, The Little Master shows no signs of stopping.
A few years ago, cricketing fans would debate long and hard over who was the greater player: Tendulkar or Lara? It is rare for such an argument to last long now. Having surpassed Lara’s record of 11953 Test runs back in October 2008 (a full 20 matches ago) any comparison made now pales into insignificance due to the unstoppable juggernaut that is Tendulkar’s high scoring consistency. Since then Aussie captain Ricky Ponting has also passed Lara’s mark (back in July). However, Ponting’s failure in two Ashes series against England and the sight of Australia’s terminal decline under his watch seems destined to count against him.
Unlike other major Test match batsmen who tailed off towards the end of their careers (Brian Lara, Matthew Hayden & Inzamam-Ul-Haq to name a few) Tendulkar just gets better and better. One only has to look at his statistics and achievements from the last 12 months to realise it has probably been his greatest year. Back in February he became the first man to make a double hundred in an ODI with 200 not out against South Africa. This score could have been considerably higher had M S Dhoni not dominated the strike during the last 10 overs. This month also saw him win the ICC Player of the Year Award (which is amazingly the first ICC award he’s ever won). During the time under consideration for the award he scored 1064 Test runs in 10 matches and 914 ODI runs in 17 matches. On top of that he has also reclaimed the number one spot in the ICC Test Batting Rankings for the first time in 8 years. He has never been outside the top 25 since 1992 – a remarkable feat which underlines his superb consistency.
To cap off an already superlative year Tendulkar was instrumental in guiding an injury stricken India to a 2-0 whitewash of Australia in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy series. In 4 innings he piled up 403 runs, including his sixth double hundred. Thanks to one of the great series performances, Tendulkar has now helped India consolidate their number one ranking in the ICC Test Championship and condemned Australia to fifth (one place below England), their worst ranking since the Championship was introduced in 2003.
Sachin Tendulkar also seems to have an affinity with the city of Nottingham. During his career span (1989-present), no non-English player has scored more Test runs at Trent Bridge than he has, 469 runs in three matches to be exact. Furthermore, out of all the non-Indian grounds he has played at least three matches at, Trent Bridge is his third most prolific for run scoring. Finally, our fair city’s wonderful cricket ground was the setting back in 2007 when Tendulkar and fellow run plunderer Rahul Dravid claimed the record of the highest total partnership runs scores by a non-opening pair. Short of him completing a campus 14, I’m sure no more proof is needed that he is indeed a living legend.