Tendulkar lovefest absurd
The cricket world is in Sachin Tendulkar overload. India’s Little Master, as cricket journalists repeatedly call him, is about to play his final test, against the West Indies in Mumbai.
It’ll be his 200th test, by far the record.
When added to his 463 one-day internationals (also the record) and one Twenty20 international, it’s clear what a fixture 40-year-old Tendulkar has been on the world stage.
He has progressed from the 16-year-old cherub who made his test debut against Pakistan in 1989 – before he shaved – to the idol of a nation.
Generations of Indian cricket followers have asked day after day: ‘‘Is Tendulkar still batting?’’ Australians asked the same question during Don Bradman’s career.
But even for Tendulkar, the hype surrounding his impending farewell has been extreme.
The Indian cricket board managed to slip in a two-test tour by the West Indies, so Tendulkar could reach 200 tests and could play his final match on his home ground.
Cricinfo, the world’s leading cricket website, has a special ‘‘Farewell to Tendulkar’’ section.
Some of the stories in that section are headed ‘‘Sachin the Epic Warrior’’, ‘‘The Supreme Right-hander on the Planet’’, ‘‘Idol Worship’’, ‘‘A Zen Master’’, ‘‘The One-Man Happiness Box’’, ‘‘The Saint’’ and ‘‘A Singular Icon’’. Nothing under-stated in there! The man himself has always shied away from excessive praise and does not seem to suffer from an inflated ego. Others can’t restrain themselves. Many are calling himself the second- greatest batsman of alltime, after Bradman. Some are citing his numbers ( 51 test centuries, 49 one- day centuries, most test and one-day runs) and placing him ahead of The Don. Not to me. I salute Tendulkar’s longevity – a test career of nearly 24 years – though he’s only fifth on the all-time list, seven years behind England all-rounder Wilfred Rhodes.
And I acknowledge that Tendulkar was a beautiful player, balanced, light on his feet, brave. But the best? Or the second best? Has Tendulkar been better than contemporaries such as Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis?
Players should be judged by their prime. Tendulkar has been in a long, gentle slide (no test century for three years and a batting average of 38.3 in his last 39 innings), and Ponting also played on too long.
Of the modern greats, I place Lara top. He didn’t have a strong batting lineup around him, as the other three did. He also played the most memorable and matchwinning innings.
He was thrilling and daring, a player people everywhere would pay to watch, just in case it was his day.
Since World War II, has Tendulkar been better than Denis Compton, Peter May, Neil Harvey, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Greg Chappell, Everton Weekes, Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Mohammad Yousuf and Sunil Gavaskar? He was wonderful, but so were they. In the Tendulkar lovefest, it’s not enough to say that. He has to be elevated – absurdly – to the greatest ever. It’s madness.
Legend departs: Sachin Tendulkar is about to play his final test match.