Happy birthday to Cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar
There are so many things that Sachin Tendulkar is to so many people, that it is sometimes forgotten that he is first and foremost a batsman of unparalleled ability, dedication and mind. If he had taken to some other sport in early childhood, his persona would have been invented — by coaches who want to teach their wards the virtues a tight technique that allows attacking shots, by film-makers who want to create celluloid fantasy by depicting the perfect batsman and superstar, by marketing men who want to appeal to the broadest strata of public imaginable and by cricket fanatics who want to see batting perfection embodied in one person.
Tendulkar has been in the spotlight since before he made his international debut, and has conducted himself in exemplary fashion, even though he has been India’s biggest news-worthy item for two decades. His debut in 1989 was a fiery introduction to international cricket, when as a 16 year old he had to face up to the might of Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Waqar Younis in their backyard.
Since then he has gone on to amass records by the dozens, a few of which are unlikely to be surpassed during his lifetime. He has the most number of runs in Test matches as well as One Day Internationals, and the most number of centuries in both forms as well. His tally of more than 30,000 international runs is not likely to be overtaken by anyone, as is his list of international centuries. He has become the only man in history to get to 100 international centuries, a mind boggling achievement comparable to Don Bradman’s career average of 99.94. In his career that has spanned over two decades, he has achieved almost everything as an individual and has also been part of innumerable team successes, including a World Cup win in 2011.
Tendulkar, who did not play many One Dayers since the World Cup triumph, featuring only in the CB series and the Asia Cup, pulled the plug on a glorious career in the 50-over format when he announced his retirement from ODIs on 23 December 2012. His record in ODIs – 463 ODIs, 18,426 runs and 49 centuries – is an unmatchable feat.
More than numbers though, it is what Tendulkar brings to the arena every time he sets foot on the field that touches fans, cutting across boundaries and nationalities. He has been hailed by Sir Donald Bradman as the man most resembling the Don in batting style, and he has lived up to that by scoring runs consistently against all comers and on all surfaces for a time-frame and a number of matches that has been unmatched by anyone in the history of cricket.
Tendulkar has also been the single biggest factor behind the explosion of popularity that cricket enjoys in India which led to the Indian board becoming the richest and most powerful in world cricket. In a country already predisposed to cricket, Tendulkar gave the people a hero they could look upto regardless of age, colour, creed or sect — and catapulted cricket from a sport to a religion in the subcontinent.
Tendulkar retired from the IPL after Mumbai won the title in 2013 before stepping away completely from the T20 format after Mumbai lifted the CLT20 for a record second time. The Master Blaster announced his retirement from Test cricket on October 10, 2013, a month before a two-Test series against the West Indies which would see him play his historic 200th Test in front of his home crowd in Mumbai. He did not disappoint the fans as he compiled a fluent 74 in his final Test on November 16, 2013. On the same day, the Indian government announced the Bharat Ratna award for him – the highest civilian award given in India. Soon after, he took some time off the game and returned to mentor Mumbai Indians for IPL 2014.