Sachin Tendulkar – 20 years of batting like this is just astonishing

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Did you know that it took 78 one-day internationals for Sachin Tendulkar to score a hundred? It’s an odd fact, that, considering he’s squeezed in another 44 since then, including a whopping 175 against Australia today.

It’s sometimes difficult to appreciate Sachin Tendulkar properly. It’s like thinking about the vast emptiness of space or the vast emptiness of the modern urban lifestyle. It’s all too much to comprehend.

Sachin Tendulkar does this for the billionth time

What has Sachin actually achieved?

Sachin Tendulkar scored his 17,000th run today. That’s a stupid number that’s seemingly of no consequence at all. But then think to yourself that scoring just a thousand one-day international runs is actually quite an achievement. Ricky Ponting’s only just passed 12,000 and he’s the third-highest one-day run-scorer of all time. Sanath Jayasuriya’s second on about 13,000. These guys are a long, long way behind.

Two whole decades of being pretty damn exceptional

Tendulkar’s not some fly-by-night like Mike Hussey; he’s not some short-lived overachiever like Ricky Ponting or Brian Lara. Tendulkar’s in it for the long haul. As impressive as all the runs and all the hundreds are, the most jaw-dropping achievement of all is that Sachin Tendulkar has managed to be good enough to play for his country for 20 years.

Bet he’s ace at frisbee

He’s not a Nepali Ultimate Frisbee player either – he’s an Indian cricketer. And not just any kind of Indian cricketer – an Indian batsman. This is a country where if you wander down to the Oval Maidan in Mumbai of an afternoon and grab the six nearest people, you’ll probably have a Test standard batting line-up. Sachin Tendulkar has been pretty much the best batsman in this country for 20 years. That’s astonishing.

Bit of cricket

A tree falling in the woods may or may not make a sound

But a Sachin Tendulkar hundred in a packed stadium makes a kind of searing white noise that sets the hairs on the back of your neck on end even when you’re sat in England watching it on Sky Plus when you already know the result.

Towards the end of this match, Suresh Raina hit a cracking six and got all pumped-up and pleased with himself. He went for another big swing and spazzed it. Sachin Tendulkar hit two sixes in a row at one point. We can’t remember what he did with the next delivery, but he didn’t get out. He passed 17,000 runs and didn’t get out next ball. He got his hundred and still ploughed on.

But get it wrong and the white noise becomes blue murder. There’s that too.

And what have you got?

You get batsmen who are exceptional when they’re 16. You get batsmen with adamantium wrists. You get batsmen who choose their shots well.

You get cricketers who are fit and dedicated to their sport. You get cricketers who can cope with the downs and who come back stronger. You get get cricketers who can last for 20 years.

You never get all of this.

On the slide

There were people four years ago saying that Sachin Tendulkar was ‘past it’. They said his reflexes had gone. People often say this about batsmen once they get past 30. It’s such utter, utter bullshit.

Oh and by the way, Australia won.


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  1. Wonderfully memorable ode. So much written about the man, but i’ll remember (and bookmark) this one.


  2. THat ‘s all very nice, but um,, that’s all he’s done since he was 16. That’s about 70 runs a month. He’s never been dropped, (has he?) – in another country and culture, he might have been.

    But more importantly, how often, in all these runs, has he won the game for his team? He’s so wonderful, yet India don’t really win a tenth as much they ought to, with god in their side.

    That minor sentence at the end says it all. It’s irrelevant, I know, but India lost to a team thrown together in an epileptic fit.. God holed out at the last moment to some bushranger who probably he’ll never play against again.

    (sorry, but I like mortals with achilles’ heels)

  3. Imagine doing that all while lugging around a name like that. Ten-Dul-Kar. Not Lara or Dhoni or Ponting. Three whole syllables. No wonder his wrists hurt. Seh-Wag has a definite advantage in this regard. Yet his average is lower. Loser.

  4. steve:
    Tendulkar hasn’t won many matches for two reasons: The rest of the batsmen usually fail and the bowlers are terrible. Also, are you saying that in some cultures/countries you drop people who average 50+ in tests, and 40+ in ODIs?

  5. As an Aussie I was torn between wanting to see Australia win, and cheering for Tendulkar to pull off an impossible victory.
    Either way it was an awesome game to watch.

  6. Gerontius

    yes, in Oz. Just ask Hodge and Rogers for starts. And they are talking about Hussey if he doesn’t pull his socks up in the tests.

    as for the rest of India’s batsmen usually failing – they have three who aren’t Ten dulkar in the top ten, 2 of them are 1 and 3. So how did they get there?

  7. Steve, while you have a valid point, how many times can you expect him to win matches for India? The others have a responsibility right? The team is called India, not Sachin. He can’t keep them dragging them to the finish line again and again. I say it’s the others fault.

    Great post btw KC.

  8. Great post. Amused by the minor digs at Punter.

    SRT looked about ten years younger in the game last night. He has looked pretty stiff and ungainly at times recently, but he seemed to have just dropped a decade. Amazing innings…… but the Aussies really hung in there, instead of just folding in admiration (which I think I would have done.)

    It’s that bloody-minded streak which makes them so keen on spoiling other’s parties.

  9. This stuff about the rest of the batsmen usually failing is just trash.

    MS Dhoni is the best if not one of the best one day batsmen in the world just now. And Yuvraj is no slouch.

  10. Having just watched the rerun, I think the Aussies were bloody amazing not to just fall over from the sound of 50,000 screaming, ejaculating Indians, let alone win.

  11. Steve mate, you should be ashamed of yourself for deriding the greatest batsman of the modern era. More than criticizing sachin for playing the shot he did to get out – maybe the praise should be reserved for McCay who cleverly slowed it up. A little faster and it was over short fine leg for 4 and yes the game would have been sealed. That is international cricket for you.
    But lets be honest – India owe it to Sachin to even get as close as they did.

    As an Aussie lets get one thing right – Sachin is and will be the worlds best. You commented that he would find it hard to find himself a place in other teams over 20 years – either you don’t follow a lot of cricket or you are plain biased. Sachin would have been a regular for the Aussie team – make no mistake about that.

    He has smashed us to all parts time and again – and if he played for us – im sure he would have been even closer to the great sir don.

    hes got a billion people on his shoulders – and we aussies love our sport. hand it over to the champ. he is the best thing cricket has known for the last 20 years.

    and to the aussies who keep pointing out that we have a 3rd rate team – let me point out to u that hilfy, dougy and mckay all bowl over 140km/h + so thats hardly what youd call pedestrian. we are fortunate to have an awesome bowling stock.

    i know when its time to stand up and applaud. we won last night but to me it was sachin who was the real hero – win or lose for india. For the sake of India – I strongly hope they win to take it to the decider and if sachin wins it for them – so be it….

  12. “let me point out to u that hilfy, dougy and mckay all bowl over 140km/h +”

    let me point out that speed guns these days have pretty much everyone bowling in the 140s. it’s bullshit.

  13. No, maybe its because they can actually bowl that fast. There is a lot more emphasis on physical conditioning today. lets not search for excuses by blaming the speed guns. It does however augur well for the world of cricket which for a period lacked some really good bowlers. The 70s 80s and early 90s witnessed some greats.

  14. Greg, mate, go back and read what I actually said, before you write another book.

    Derision? where? he just doesn’t do it for me. And i don’t need you or anyone else to tell me who I think is a great cricketer and telling me what I do or don’t know just because I don’t fit your stunted stereotype of “Aussie”.

    Heroes come in all shapes and sized and they aren’t all called Tendulkar or Bradman. I’d rather watch the up-and-coming Marshes and McKays finding their way any day.

    er….sorry, KC, for getting serious for a moment while answering this eejit.

  15. Steve, you’ve tried quite hard to sound smartalecky. But what’s your point? That he’s not God? Obviously, he’s mortal…and fallible. The article never claims he isn’t. It basically marvels that Tendulkar has performed at such an exceptional level for ~2 decades. (Yes, I too agree that KC could have done without the pathetic swipes at Lara and Ponting…in very poor taste that). But the central point stands. Regardless of whether ‘idiots’ like you concur. (So some Indians mispronounce English words…it is the 2nd or 3rd language for most of us. How many languages does an average Aussie know???)

  16. Also, some hard facts, and a few questions, for ignoramus smartalecks: a) ST has won a WR 60 MoM matches in his ODI career. (Next men Jayasuriya and Punter have won less than half) b) 32 of his 45 hundreds have led to Indian wins. c) When was the last time one man contributed 50% of the runs in a 270+ chase, let alone a 300+ one??? d) When was the last time an 18-yr old scored a test 100 at the WACA (besides a 140+ at the SCG)? And then came back 16 years later (2007/08) to score 494 runs in 4 tests? e) How often does an ICONIC sportsman go through his career remaining a humble, decent man and a gentleman while playing his sport??? (Even Federer has smashed rackets on the court, Woods can be boorish with his mindgames, Punter has had his boorish outbursts, though he has mellowed down. Phelps has done pot. Agassi crystal meth. Maradona coke. Warnie failed a dope test too. In fact, the only guys in ST’s league, in this regard, that I can think of off the cuff are the Don himself, and golfing greats like Nicklaus and Palmer)

  17. This Tendulkar article has made me come over all W. S. Gilbert (read that closely and make sure you include all the words). Anyway:

    Hip Hip Hoorah
    For Tendulkar.
    Achilles with a bat.
    At nine for three
    You’re calm and free,
    Indifferent as a cat.

    Some fly-by-nights
    Burn brighter lights
    And average 52.
    But they’re all puff,
    Not finer stuff.
    No brazen Hussey you.

    Where most talk blandly,
    You speak grandly –
    Comment’ry insightful.
    You’re speech ain’t laden
    With Words of Hayden.
    Discard his words most shiteful!

    I saw you swatting ‘em,
    One day at Nottingham.
    Top score with near a ton.
    There’s some mismatch in
    Watchin’ Sachin
    Hit boundaries for fun.

    So here is praying
    You’ll go on flaying
    Fours and sixes plenty.
    With no goodbyes
    To ODIs
    Or tests, or Twenty20.

  18. Sorry Steve, Greg’s right – you’re a gumnut who doesn’t yet have the brains to see past his own nationalist biases.

  19. A fitting tribute. Many thanks, King Cricket.

    I can honestly say that the sight of Tendulkar in full flow is easily the best thing i have ever seen in cricket. Forget the records and the runs and the hundreds. The man makes batting look hopelessly easy at times. One can only marvel at the quality of the strokeplay, the manner in which he can manipulate the field and attack the best bowlers in unimaginable ways. He is quite simply, a genius.

    BTW, i thought his move of delaying the powerplay ’til the 45th over (or thereabouts) was brilliant. Not only did it allow a youngster like Jadeja the opportunity to play some big shots under favourable field restrictions, but it also ensured that India’s pitiful tailenders could win the game in the event of a collapse. That’s the kind of tactical thinking you can’t capture with stats.

    Oh, and the manner in which he is known to baby sit his batting partners through their innings – you can’t capture that in stats either. Would a batsman like Raina survive for as long as he did had Tendulkar not been at the other end ? I think not.

    Tendulkar = genius. In more ways than one.

  20. The platitudes to Sachin a side, calling Lara and Ponting short-term achievers is quite a joke.

  21. “This is a country where if you wander down to the Oval Maidan in Mumbai of an afternoon and grab the six nearest people, you’ll probably have a Test standard batting line-up.”

    Could you have made a more foolish sounding statement? If that was so true, india would not suck at cricket and they do.

    There is not a single young player on indian team that I have seen lately that gives any hint of greatness. India should think twice before giving enforced test retirement to Dravid and/or Laxman.

    Tendulkar is the very best! Enuff said.

  22. To steve and your assertion that tendulkar might not have lasted 20 years in another team: I assert that he would have been even more of a legend because he would have Indian bowlers to slap around and score hundreds again. And steve, you truly are a biased eejit crapweasel. And I’m not even Indian.

  23. Re the comments about Ponting and Lara, KC is using something called “irony” for comical effect and to emphasize how long ST has been playing at the top level.

  24. This is a comment for Steve.

    It must be hard being a loser like, if only your parents had not done the mistake of giving life to you.

    Greg, sir, hats off to you, a good sensible comment.

    Can we get some help for Steve?

  25. steve:

    opinions are opinions and i don’t want to argue with you on that.

    but let’s face facts:

    45 centuries in ODIs – 32 of them in victories

    good enough to be called a winner in my books.

  26. “No, maybe its because they can actually bowl that fast.”

    I’m talking about the very recent past. In the last year or so everyone seems to be bowling 140+, according to the speed guns. The last few England series have had Anderson, Onions, Sidebottom, Flintoff all clocking in the high 80s (mph) regularly. In the Ashes Flintoff was apparently the fastest bowler in the world, averaging 90mph and hitting the mid 90s every now and then. It’s bullshit.

    There’s no way you can convince me that guys like Hilfenhaus and McKay are anything more than mid-80s bowlers. Bollinger looks slightly sharper.

  27. @Steve

    Whom do you think you are talking about? Look at your stats before you post… Out of the 45 times Sachin has scored a century…India have won 32 times… Ask someone to match that! He’s got 40+ avg in ODI’s and 50+ avg in tests.. Drop him? You must be crazy! Sachin has scored 1000 runs in a calender year 7 times.. Match that!
    70 runs a month? That’s one of the most shittest stats I’ve ever heard! Man , get a life! Do you actually watch cricket? 70 runs a month! I can just laugh!Man , we are talking about longevity, know the meaning of the word? I doubt it! Your method seems to be best way of “calculating” a batsman’s greatness. Take the number of runs he has scored and divide it by his playing career.Honestly, you call yourself a cricket fan?You keep watching you McKay’s and Marshes who’ll be gone before they can say “Sachin” while we keep revering the God of cricket!

  28. lara is better than ponting . ponting is lucky playing for australia he never has to face the quality of bowling that lara and tendulkar did when they faced mcgrath and warne and the rest of the aussies. if ponting played for india/pakistan/WI his average would be lower. even inzibhai is better batsman than ponting .

  29. The bowling machines are just fine, I reckon. Becoz the same machine that says Hilfenhaus and Bollinger were clocking over 140Ks said that Praveen Kumar is bowling at 130K, Nehra was 135-140K and spinners like Harbhajan and Hauritz were in the 80Ks mostly. I actually think Australia is currently overflowing with guys who can do 140K+, and even 144K+ (90mph+). In the 90mph+ category, you have Lee, Johnson, Siddle, Nannes, Tait, even Hilfenhaus (though he is not as consistently fast)…just that their load needs to be managed to keep ’em able!

  30. Actually, this series is really showcasing the depth and strength of Australian cricket. The fielding standards are just as high, the bowling has been disciplined if a little less penetrative, and the batting remains strong.

    While Aussie fans are probably loving that India is unable to get the better of this Aussie team, I really think that except for a few really key players – Ponting, Lee, Hussey, Johnson, Watson, Hauritz and Haddin – there isn’t much to choose between an Australia and Australia A team…a tribute to the Aussie cricket talent and system. That is why Australia still have a quality team, and India may even lose this series. (Though the Indian fielding and bowling weakness is also a huge factor)

  31. steve: I meant that the rest of the batsmen usually fail when Tendulkar does well. But you are right, this is usually true anymore. But our bowling attack is terrible and has been for a while. Even in T20’s and ODIs, bowlers win you matches.

  32. Just want to add a thought to what Gerontius said. I know comparisons can be odious, but we all do it, so what the heck! 2 key reasons why I rate Lara and Tendulkar ever-so-slightly more than Ponting in the batting charts are: a) Neither had good openers for the bulk of their careers and often, especially overseas, came in with the side in choppy waters; b) Neither had consistently-high-quality support from their bowling and fielding units to convert many of their individually brilliant knocks into so-called matchwinning ones. (for eg. a little more discipline / application from teammates and Sachin’s 175 would be enough to win; and both men have had plenty of occasion to be despondent in such circumstances)

    Don’t get me wrong…Ponting too is a modern master and very much in the highest league. But it has to be helpful to have other world beaters in your side for most of your career. (Just the opinion of a humble cricket buff!)

  33. SPOT ON!!
    The ONLY reason Lara,Ponting etc are even in the same FRAME as Tendulkar is because of the period from 2003-07, when Tendulkar suffered from continous injuries, while ALL (repeat ALL ) batsmen were scoring OBSCENE runs in the easiest batting conditions in history.In fact, we have probably missed out on the BEST of Tendulkar (from age 30-34) incredible tho this may seem!!!
    Till 2003, Tendulkar was miles above the pack. Even, now from 07/08 onwards,-aching body and all- he is still the KING!!

  34. Yawn.

    Great post, KC; shame about the comments.

    By the way, I’ve got a damp trampoline.

  35. Steve before you start having a go at me – i reckon u should get out of ur turtle shell.
    Out of the 45 centuries Sachin has scored, India have won 32 of them. Thats a bloody good percentage – and dont compare it with us (Aussies) coz we had a much better team.
    Also as much as Ponting is good – he can’t be compared to Sachin. Through most of the 90s and this decade we’ve had the best bowling attack – and Sachin has scored against them. Mind you the guy has faced Younis, Akram, Ambrose, Donald, Richard Hadlee. I dont think Ponting has.
    You talk about McCay and Marsh and you’re right – they are up and coming but Sachin – he started when he was 16 – and from all accounts trained with the national team from 14.
    If you still fail to see the light and say he is a genius Im sorry mate you cannot call urself a true blue aussie.

  36. very poor choice of words and analogy by the writer. good to see that most of the comments have been on discussion of the topic i.e. tendulkar’s greatness or otherwise.
    describing Mike Hussey as a “fly-by-night” and Ponting and Lara as “short-lived overachiever(s)” is as far from the truth as it is derogatory to the great players they while at the sametime illustrating the poor taste and knowledge of the writer.
    but then. i guess that the freedom thats afforded by the internet to every writer – good or bad

  37. Wow ! What a breathtaking innings from the great man. He still looks the same enthusiastic kid who blasted Donald and McGrath to all parts of the ground in the Diana memorial test match, 1992. I lost track of the score while admiring his stroke play, that only after he was dismissed did I come to terms with the match situation.

  38. LOL.Joke of the century.Can you tell me how many matches Lara has finished? One? LOL.
    get your head out of your ass…read this article on the net “Tendulkars final onslaught”

  39. KC, This post has attracted a huge response from passionate cricket fans. Please don’t do it again.

  40. Sorry KC,

    for stuffing up your excellent post. I couldn’t resist. I needed something to provoke (therapy, you know) and they all duly obliged. I enjoyed the rants, though, even if it bored the pants off the regulars.

    Last word to Greg – No, I’m not a true blue Aussie, thank God. My name is not John Howard.

  41. I realise I’m a bit late, Miriam, sorry for that, but the only sensible question in this whole thread requires a sensible answer.

    I don’t know.

    Where is Arthur Sullivan when you need him?

  42. I’ve just steeled myself and read the comments above, just in case there was a moment’s sanity. Sadly no. Someone actually wrote LOL on your website, KC. Twice. What were they thinking?

    And, apparently, “describing Mike Hussey as a fly-by-night … is as far from the truth as it is derogatory to the great players they while at the sametime illustrating the poor taste and knowledge of the writer [.]”

    Well, as the writer was me in that case, I guess I must apologise for my poor taste and at the sametime my knowledge. There was I, writing a fucking lighthearted poem, while all along I should have realised that by using Hussey as an example of a player who has both superficially similar statistics to Tendulkar, yet does not fall into the same category of greatness, and who has a name I could make a poor joke out of, I was in fact at the sametime being far from the truth and derogatory. Soz.

    Can I also apologise (on others’ behalf) for any offence that might have been taken by Modern Major-Generals, Cornwall Pirates, and anyone carrying out Constabulary Duties.

    I apologise also for my use of some punctuation in the above.

  43. Looking at some of the greatest batsmen of all time, Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Gary Sobers.. here is someone who can be compared to them. Sachin Tendulkar with his charismatic batting style has reserved a place in the heart of every cricket fan around the world. His down to earth attitude and not getting involved into any controversy in his 20yr old cricketing career makes him someone to be admired. His ubiquitous presence on the field makes every Indian heart beat faster.

    Master Blaster as he is called – True to his name.

  44. whats the fuss all about? dont do this KC!!. So what if there are many comments for a have to have a different ‘holier than thou’ view point to be counted as regular is it?

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