Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Little Master

It was probably the last individual milestone in cricket. And it now belongs to the Little Master, Indian batting star Sachin Tendulkar. Cricinfo reports:

It took nearly 40 years of waiting and it was well worth it. Sachin Tendulkar chose one of the better bowling attacks doing the rounds, to eclipse the record for the highest score, before bringing up the first ever double-hundred in ODI history. The spectators at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium became the envy of Indian cricket fans as they witnessed one of the country's favourite sporting heroes play a breathtaking innings which not only set up a 153-run annihilation but also the series victory. He may have been run-out cheaply in the previous match, but nothing could deny him today - be it bowlers, fielders, mix-ups or cramps. Dinesh Karthik, Yusuf Pathan and MS Dhoni stood by and admired as the master unfurled all the shots in his repertoire.

At 36, Tendulkar hasn't shown signs of ageing, and his sparkling touch in both forms of the game has ruled out all possibilities of him checking out anytime soon. Fatigue, cramps and paucity of time have stood in the way of batsmen going that extra mile to get to the 200-mark. Tendulkar did cramp up after crossing 150, but he didn't opt for a runner. His experience of 20 years at the international level came into play in this historic innings, staying at the crease from the first ball to the last, never once losing focus. There were no chances offered, no dropped catches, making his innings absolutely flawless.

A swirl of emotions must have run through his mind as he approached one record after another but he ensured he was never lost in the moment. His running between the wickets remained just as swift as it had been at the start of the innings. The humidity in Gwalior was bound to test him but he stood above it all and played like he owned the game, toying with the bowling with a mix of nonchalance and brute power.

In the 46th over, with a flick for two past short fine-leg, Tendulkar broke the record for the highest ODI score, going past the 194 made by Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry and Pakistan's Saeed Anwar, and to say that he acknowledged his feat modestly would be an understatement. His muted celebration on going past 194, true to style, made his innings all the more endearing. He didn't raise his bat, merely shook hands with Mark Boucher and simply carried on batting amid the din. Coming from a man who is not known to showing too much emotion with the bat in hand, it wasn't surprising. He reserved his celebrations for the magic figure of 200, which he reached in the final over with a squirt off Charl Langeveldt past backward point. He raised his bat, took off his helmet and looked up at the skies and it was only fitting that one-day cricket's highest run-getter reached the landmark.

Of course it raises the question; is Tendulkar the best batsman of all time, or does that homnour rest with the late Sir Donald Bradman? It's a dilemma; how does one compare players from different eras?

We'll say one thing for sure though; Tendulkar is far and away the best we've seen in our lifetime, and as Father Time marches on, we've seen a few!


pdm said...

Well done Tendulkar - definitely the little master but the best of all time? That is a hard one to answer as you say Bradman and Lara may have something to say as would Ponting perhaps.

Imagine if 50 over cricket had been around in the days of Sir Garfield Sobers, surely the best all round cricketer ever, Keith Miller, our own J.R. Reid - would one of them beaten Tendulkar to the 200 mark.

Finally our own Glen Turner must have been the first to give it a nudge with 170 plus at a World Cup in the 70's or very early 80's. Sure it was only against Kenya but the paper mentions Saeed Anway in 1989 against Bangladesh.

pdm said...

MMm I have just thought about Turner's score - may have been a 60 over a side match or even 8 ball overs.

Leg Break said...

Turner’s innings was with 60 * 6 ball overs.

But that was before power plays, so that evens it out a bit.

But the key is that Tendulkar just scored his against one of the best bowling attacks in the world.

Better than Bradman? Don’s average is so far ahead of anyone else’s that he still has to be #1. Uncovered pitches too.

But SRT would be 2nd in my book (easily ahead of Lara who went up and down a bit). And it’s the longevity of the guy. He played against Ian Smith FFS; and have you seen the state of him lately?

pdm said...

Thanks LB - I last saw Smith in person at the test in Napier against the Indians in March last. He kindly brought my uncle a bottle of water after he collapsed from the heat.

They had double doors on the entry to the commentary box - lol.