You would be excused for not knowing who Sachin Tendulkar is, if
- you've lived all your life in a non-cricket -playing country with little exposure to the game and are now faced with the daunting prospect of living in a country where cricket is religion.
- you've just been released after being held hostage with no contact with the outside world for the last two decades.
- you've arrived in the present on a time machine from a time when few Indians broke international cricketing records.
Arguably one of the most talented cricketers of all time, everybody it seems, knows about the legendary Mr. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
Making his test debut in 1989, the Little Master as he is called, went on to break record after record with his batting prowess. To fathom why Tendulkar is considered the most-worshipped cricketer in India, one must simply look at the numbers - in his career, the man has notched up a whopping 14692 runs from 177 test matches with 51 centuries and 59 half-centuries! And in 448 One Day Internationals he has scored 17842 runs with 47 centuries and 93 half centuries.
Let's not forget that his first test hundred was made when he was a mere lad of 17 and by the time he was 25, he had 16 of them. And to think Tendulkar originally wanted to be a fast bowler, but Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Academy persuaded him to focus on batting instead!
There is a lot of trivia associated with Sachin Tendulkar's batting talent. Ramakant Achrekar, Tendulkar's coach, is said to have famously created a reward of a coin for any bowler who would get him out, failing which, Tendulkar could keep the coin. The champ apparentlywent on to collect 13 of them! Sir Donald Bradman is said to have compared Tendulkar's batting to his own and one of the highpoints of Tendulkar's life was meeting Sir Bradman.
Peter Roebuck, a former cricketer and now a newspaper columnist and commentator is presumed to have said, "On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped by for few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century. "
Ask Tendulkar fans why they worship him, and pat comes the reply, “His passion for the game and his hard work. He's been around for 20 years, long after others have made their money and left. He has taken a god-given talent and honed it with hard work. And of course, he has held himself with great poise while facing some of the fiercest bowlers of his time!”
Watch Sachin Tendulkar captain the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premiere League Season 4, beginning April 8, 2011.
For the latest statistics related to Sachin Tendulkar, visit http://www.espncricinfo.com/
An edited version appeared in Culturama's April 2011 Issue