New Delhi - India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who announced he will retire after his 200th Test next month against the West Indies, was widely regarded by his cricketing peers as the greatest batsman since the Australian legend Donald Bradman.
Tendulkar has played the most Tests (198 to date), scored the most Test runs (15 837 to date), most one-day international runs (18 426), most Test centuries (51) and most one-day hundreds (49).
On Thursday, Tendulkar said: “All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years.
“It’s hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it’s all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.
“It’s been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test match on home soil, as I call it a day.”
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT THE “LITTLE MASTER”.
Donald Bradman: “I saw him (Sachin) playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two... his compactness, technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel.”
Shane Warne: “Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt – daylight second, Brian Lara third.”
Viv Richards: “He has been a genius when it comes to ability, a Trojan when it comes to work ethic and manic when it comes to his focus.”
Rahul Dravid: “What he has done is set a benchmark for future generations which, probably, would be almost impossible for anyone to emulate.”
Brian Lara: “Sachin is a genius. I’m a mere mortal.”
Anil Kumble: “I am fortunate that I’ve to bowl at him only in the nets.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: “His schoolboy-like enthusiasm for the game is something I envy and admire. For the team he is the best available coaching manual.”
Andy Flower: “There are two kinds of batsmen in the world. One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others.”
Shah Rukh Khan: “I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to breathe the same air as you do.”
Sunil Gavaskar: “It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little champion does. There is not a single shot he cannot play,” said Gavaskar.
Sourav Ganguly: “It’s not just the talent he was born with, but what he did with it,” Ganguly told NDTV news channel.
Kris Srikkanth: “Sachin is still the same person I saw in 1989. That’s his greatness not just as a cricketer, but as a human being.”
Graeme Smith: “The biggest tribute I can give him is that I had the opportunity of playing against him. The game of cricket will miss him. From a playing perspective we hope that he will play an ambassadorial role or in administration or wherever it’s going to be – I hope he stays in the game somewhere.”
Gautam Gambhir: “I think India jersey number 10 should retire as well and be preserved forever.”
Ian Bishop: “The sight of the straight lines of the bat on its downswing; the power of the back foot punch; thanks for the memories Sachin. Glad you came.”
DID YOU KNOW?
* Tendulkar has 13 coins from his coach Ramakant Achrekar. He would win a coin if he got through an entire net session without being dismissed.
* Holds the unique distinction of scoring a century on debut in Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy and Duleep Trophy.
* Tendulkar was a ball boy during the 1987 semi-final between India and England.
* There are two wards in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, one named after Tendulkar and another after Vinod Kambli. The duo shared a 664-run unbroken partnership in a school match.
* Tendulkar was the first player to be given out by the third umpire in an international game.
* Everyone remembers Vangipurappu Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid’s (180) 376-run partnership against Australia in a Kolkata Test in 2001 after being asked to follow on. But many have forgotten Tendulkar’s three wickets in the second innings, including those of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, to trigger the collapse.
* Tendulkar was the first individual without an aviation background to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.
FIVE OF THE BEST
*119 not out v England at Old Trafford, August 1990 – Tendulkar scored the first of his world-record haul of 100 international centuries as a 17-year-old in circumstances that would have tested the credentials of a Test veteran.
India were wobbling at 127-5 after being set 408 to win the second Test against England at Old Trafford, before the teenager defied the England attack for nearly four hours to help his team salvage a draw.
“I thought it came at the right time when India needed runs to save the game. The first century is always going to be memorable. It gave me the confidence,” Tendulkar later told Indian magazine “Sportstar”.
*114 v Australia at Perth, February 1992 – Tendulkar was still in his teens when he cracked a gem of a hundred on a bouncy Perth track against a lively all-pace attack comprising Craig McDermott, Merv Hughes, Paul Reiffel and Mike Whitney.
He hammered 16 fours in a magnificent display of strokemaking after being promoted in the batting order. India lost the match but Tendulkar won many a heart.
Among his admirers was legendary Australian batsman Don Bradman, who said the Indian reminded him of his younger days.
“It was a very important stage of my cricketing life. Australia was something special. Once you score runs in England and Australia, people in the world come to know about you, about what you have done,” said Tendulkar.
*111 v South Africa at Johannesburg, November 1992 – India were struggling in unfamiliar conditions on their maiden tour of South Africa, but not teenager Tendulkar who showed his team-mates the way with an impressive hundred in the first innings of the second Test at Johannesburg.
He was the lone batsman to cope with the hostile pace attack, led by Allan Donald, as he batted for more than six hours and smashed 19 fours in a breathtaking display.
“I was thrilled making runs against South Africa. They had some big names and I was determined to come good. It was the beginning of their return to international cricket and they were trying hard as well,” said Tendulkar.
*155 not out v Australia at Chennai, March 1998 – Tendulkar was involved in a fascinating duel with leg-spin wizard Shane Warne, who eventually came second-best in the battle of the superstars.
The Indian fell to Warne for four in the first innings, but made amends in the second with a strokeful 155 not out with four sixes and 14 fours to set up his team's victory.
The focus was also on Tendulkar's preparations. Days before the opening Test, he batted during practice sessions with a deliberate “rough” outside the leg-stump for the bowlers to replicate Warne's spin from round the wicket.
“Tendulkar has a touch of genius about him. But I wonder if people appreciate the amount of time he spends working on his game. Sachin plans well before every tour,” Warne wrote in his book “Shane Warne's Century”.
*103 not out v England at Chennai, December 2008 – In one of the most emotional moments in Indian cricket, Tendulkar masterminded a memorable win over England with an unbeaten 103 a few weeks after his home city of Mumbai was devastated by a series of attacks on November 26.
Set 387 to win on the penultimate afternoon, Tendulkar built on Virender Sehwag's brisk 68-ball 83 as India achieved the highest run chase on home soil and the fifth-highest in the history of the game.
The master batsman dedicated his century to the nation mourning the Mumbai attacks.
“Their loss can't be replaced, but I hope this win brings some cheer to those who lost dear ones in the attack,” said Tendulkar.
Sapa-AFP and Reuters