Select sportsmen and women over time have been held in the regard as “The Greatest of their Generation”, even fewer can be seen as “The Greatest of all time”, but the best person to ever play a sport is a position that is much debated, and no one is ever universally in agreement as to who that person is. But today saw the curtain drawn on the career of a cricketer that can certainly be put into the ever-continuing “Greatest of all time” debate.
332 international matches, 17,189 runs and 50 centuries. Well, double those statistics and you’ll get the career numbers of the “Little Master” himself, Sachin Tendulkar. People have run out of superlatives to describe Tendulkar’s career. The number of records that he has amassed is, quite simply, staggering by anyone’s standards:
- 15,921 Test Match runs, making him the all-time top scorer
- 200 Test Match appearances, leading the all-time list
- 51 Test Match 100’s
- 18,426 One-Day International (ODI) runs, all-time top scorer
- 463 ODI appearances, an all-time high
- 49 ODI 100’s
- 62 ODI Man of the Match Awards, with 15 Man of the Series Awards, he leads both of those lists
- Played at a record 90 different venues
- The only player to take more than 150 wickets and score more than 15,000 runs in One-Day Internationals
- Scored 2,560 runs at the Cricket World Cup, an all-time high, at an average of 56.95
- Has played with and against 989 International Cricketers (141 Indian, 848 opponents)
(Statistics courtesy of indiatimes.com)
Australia legend Shane Warne called Tendulkar “The greatest player I’ve played against”, a sentiment that has been echoed by West Indies hero Brian Lara. Praise doesn’t come much higher in the cricketing world, and tributes have been flooding in from the world of sport for the “Master Blaster,” be it through Twitter or otherwise. India team-mate Yuvraj Singh added “Everybody talks about his records, but the standard he set off the field was incredible.”
India sees Sachin as almost God-like, and he is now being rewarded with India’s highest civilian honour for his services to the sport and his country, the Bharat Ratna. He has set even more records from this award, by being the first sportsman to receive the award, and at 40 is the youngest person to do so as well.
Quoting advice from his late father, Tendulkar was told from a young age to “Chase your dreams, but don’t find short-cuts.”
Tendulkar gave an emotional 20-minute farewell in front of a filled-to-capacity Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai today, saying that “My life between 22 yards for (more than) 22 years, it’s hard to believe that that wonderful journey is coming to an end.”
Very true, Tendulkar’s playing days are now over, but the time for his records to be revered throughout history begins now, as a cricketer, and as a man.