Sachin Tendulkar’s last British hurrah
As one of the finest players to have ever graced the game, India’s Sachin Tendulkar looks to be making one final tour of duty to England when he arrives with the national side this summer. At 38, the Little Master has enjoyed several trips to Blighty and commanded authority since he stepped up to the crease for the first time at Lord’s in July 1990.
There are not enough superlatives to personify a man who has defined much of cricket over the last two decades, a hero in his homeland and an ambassador for the sport all over the globe. Averaging 62 from 13 Tests and 43.79 from 26 one-day games in England, he has been a constant thorn for the home side – but through the feats he has achieved and the joy he is to witness, his presence will be missed.
His debut tour at the tender age of 17 brought around his maiden Test hundred; a disciplined unbeaten innings of 119 that displayed immense maturity beyond his years. Despite ultimately losing the series, Tendulkar had made the breakthrough and followed this up with a further two centuries in the 1996 Test series – including a breathtaking 177 at Trent Bridge in another anchor-like innings that he has become famed for.
Having failed to win any of their last nine Test matches in England, India were led to a resounding victory by Tendulkar on his return to Headingley. It was ironic that his previous exploits wearing the White Rose brought around one of his finest innings on these shores – a flawless score of 193 that set the foundations for victory, a knock that took him past a certain Sir Don Bradman’s total of 30 Test centuries.
Tendulkar proved his efficiency and doggedness as a stalwart in the five-day game, but unlike many players, his proficiency at opening his arms with clinical timing and unmatched anticipation allowed him to settle into the one-day scene with some disdain. His first 17 innings yielded just two scores above 49, but four fifties in the 2007 Natwest series exposed the tenacity and bullish approach taken by the Little Master.
Yorkshire are one of few clubs that have enjoyed his formidable blend of exquisite timing, judgment, improvisation and an eye that the Australians likened to that of a dead fish. Joining in 1992 as the first overseas player to represent the county, the fresh-faced 19-year-old ushered in a new and prominent era for the side – scoring 1,070 runs at an average of 46.52 in a stint that he hailed as “one of the greatest four-and-a-half months I’ve spent in my life.”
Over the years there have been few players as modest as the Mumbai-born batsman, one of the more key factors that has allowed him to become a great of the game. His dedication, subtle aggression and total insatiability have brought him more records than ever anticipated – his sheer passion for the sport driving him on over a 23-year career that sees him average over 45 in every major Test nation except Pakistan.
Including the prestigious titles of highest run scorer in Test matches (14,692) and the most international centuries (99), Tendulkar is a rare quality that cricket is unlikely to unearth for a second time. Seven of these centuries have come on English territory, on six different grounds, and with India visiting three of these on their latest tour, that century of centuries is looking ever closer.
In fact, unlike so many others, his name remains absent from the honours board at Lord’s, with a high score of 37 coming from four Tests – a ton at the home of cricket would be a fitting finale. While Bradman, having watched him bat, not only mentioned him in his all-time eleven, but also said that the way Tendulkar fashioned runs reminded him of himself in his heyday – high praise indeed.Tagged in: Cricket, england, Sachin Tendulker
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