Sunday, 8 November 2009

Tendulkar - The Best I've Seen

For once, I take no risk in making a definitive statement. For once, common sense, fact and emotion sit in the stands, happy to share three adjacent seats watch and talk the game and reach the same conclusion ... Sachin Tendulakr is the best I've seen.

I might successfully argue Tendulkar is the best there has been but I couldn't be bothered splitting cricket hairs with you.

I watched his debut hundred against Australia at the SCG just days before I began serving my eight year sentence in a remote country hell. It was only his second century and the glue was still wet on the lad's pubic hair as he drove through the on side and unleashed cuts and drives whilst Ravi Shasti made a celebrated double century. Reid had broken down (again) and McDermott and Hughes were plundered but his sternest discipline was reserved for the tubby, blond rookie bowling leggies. In the years which followed, it was a position of ascendancy - a mastering - he never once gave up. His dominance of the game's best bowler is one of the truest marks of his greatness.

Another is his ability to lift the boring and mundane from its collection of medium pace trundlers and fielding restrictions and coloured clothing and repetitive tactics and outcomes and suddenly blow a handful of Tinkerbell's magic dust over the event and make it memorable. Even the highlights of his 175 this week are unforgettable, the stuff of breath taken away.

Yet, he waves this magic wand with little fanfare and almost embarrassing humility. He takes the spotlight but never wants to talk about anything but cricket as the camera's click and whirr, gathering more moments to sell. He smiles occasionally but mostly sticks to talking about this game or the game but is rarely cornered on his game. He understands the game is more important than any of its players.

I watched the last outing of that old red hankied warrior. I applauded him to and from the wicket on his last day, numbing palms and fingers in the doing. I revelled in his last ditch stroke play and was disappointed as he left, proud as he should have been, for a job well done. Despite my affection for Waugh, despite my admiration for his style, his grit, his contribution to the Baggy Green's legend, its Tendulkar double century which was the remarkable achievement during those few days at the SCG. I doubt I'll ever watch better batting.

When Waugh slog/swept one last, career-ending time to forward square leg, my love of irony was sated again. It was Tendulkar who took the catch. It was as though something more than a cricket ball had passed between them.

The Little Master ... you'd better believe it!

Read what my mentor Roebuck says ...


  1. Thanks Lango, I do enjoy reading Roebuck.

    I was privileged to watch Tendulkar on India’s last tour and watched him dissect Brett Lee with precision. To be honest I don’t entertain debates of who was better; Ponting, Lara and Tendulkar have all had long and prosperous careers, led their countries, made runs when their teams desperately needed them etc. I guess one thing that sets Tendulkar slightly apart is his ability to dominate anywhere and against anyone. Perhaps the same could be said about Lara. I don’t think this could be said about Ponting. There are numerous batsmen that have not had the same longevity but have similarly dominated so hence a discussion of ‘greatness’ is always problematic. I’ve always thought that since Bradman only ever played in two countries and against 3 (?) opponents, without head-gear and on uncovered pitches; comparisons across the generations is almost futile.

    Overall cricket lovers are just plain blessed to have watched Viv Richards, Sunil Gavasakar, Steve Waugh, Ian Botham and then Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar. Similarly one could say the same about Malcolm Marshall, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and others.

    The amazing thing about Tendulkar is his ability to adjust to any circumstance and conditions. The story of how he wasn’t happy with his cut-shot (?) and so simply didn’t play it and got runs from other areas has always stuck with me. Few batsmen could take out one of their favourite shots – imagine Ponting avoiding the pull-shot! – and still score plenty of runs. What a genius.

  2. he IS the greatest -of the modern era- IMHO.

    on that last tour, he never looked like having someone get him out, if i recall, he played on twice and not due to the bowler as they were both wide of off.

    i think, as you noted Lango, that Tendulkars dominance over Warne is possibly the best yard stick of his brilliance. sure others have had no issues with spin, but Sachin was the most dominant player of Warne in the world.

    if i look at that list Lefty, i see 3 of my 4 favourite players of all time, a reflection of my age, but i think also the quality of the last 30 years. (the missing fav is Chappelli- the only one in that family i respect, no matter Gregs brilliant batting technique).

  3. Sheer weight of runs in all forms of the game would suggest Tendulkar is the best of the modern era but comparisons are very dangerous to make. To put his contribution into some sort of perspective, and this is not taking away from his ability but you must accept one thing. He would never have played cricket for Australia at 16. Not even before he was 20 I would suggest. Take away four years of runs against sometimes lacklustre oppositions on the sub continent and the weight of numbers gets diluted a bit.
    I will say again that he is magnificent to watch when he is on but so was Lara, Richards, Mark Waugh too was sublime when he was on song. Border fought for every run in difficult circumstances as a lone hand most of the time so his input must not be forgotten.
    The question will always be how we decide the best. Runs? Style? Reliability?
    Bradman was twice as good as his next rival and there is no one even close to that in the modern era.