On the 24 April 2011 the legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar celebrated his 38th birthday just days after helping India become World Cup champions for the first time in 28 years. His contribution to the cause was pivotal. In five matches against the top sides Sri Lanka, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and England he totalled 387 runs uncluding two centuries and two fifties averaging 77.40.
Furthermore, swashbuckling star Yuvraj scored 42 boundaries with three sixes in the competition while Tendulkar scored 60 boundaries with eight sixes. Interestingly the explosive Yuvray registers a strike rate of 81.92 this year but this has been eclipsed by Tendulkar who has recorded 88.60.
In December 2007 I wrote an article extolling the brilliance of 'The Little Master' and presented the case that he was the best batsman in the history of the game (here). Despite acknowledging some salient points I believe I won the argument!
Two years later in November 2009 I expressed my concern regarding his fitness and form (which can be read here) but the sentiments expressed then were wide of the mark. News of his impending decline had been grossly exaggerated because from January 2010 to the present day he amassed 1722 runs in 15 matches at a staggering average of 82. It would be flippant to label this effort an 'Indian Summer'. Included in these knocks are two double hundreds, one against Sri Lanka and the second one against Australia where he scored 214 and 53 not out in a man of the match performance.
Using video analysis the opposition have tried to find a weakness - it does not exist! His home and away averages are exactly the same; he is adept at playing spin as fast bowling. Sri Lankan spin bowler Muralitharan has got him out eight times (the most by any bowler against him) but in 36 Test innings he averages 60.45. Against Australia in their pomp he averaged 60.60 in 59 Test innings and best spinner Shane Warne has only managed to snare him three times!
Tendulkar is the only player in Test Cricket history to score fifty centuries and the first to score fifty centuries in all international cricket combined. To date he has 99 centuries in international cricket and it is only a matter of time before he reaches a remarkable century of international centuries. It is improbable that this feat will ever be repeated.
This brave and wonderful artist refuses to stand still though some of us selfishly want him to bow out at the top so that his name is not tarnished. History promises that his excellence will be challenged one day but it is hard to visualise and will take a unique individual to do so. There is little more we can add to describe this marvellous gift to cricket other than to say he was born with artistry and performance in his DNA and that to witness his batting is one of spiritual indulgence.
If you have time please look at the article written in December 2007 with the link above. When it was written nobody at Betfair believed it would cause such controversy...
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