April Athlete of the Month: Sachin Tendulkar

April 3, 2010

This month's Athlete of the Month is the legendary Indian cricket player, Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar, the most revered cricket player of his generation, reached even new heights earlier this year when he became the first player in the 40-year history of One Day International (ODI) cricket to score 200 runs in a match. The previous record of 194 runs was shared by two other cricket players.

Tendulkar's 200 runs came against the hapless bowling of a usually solid South African team during a comfortable 153-run victory by India over South Africa in Gwailor, India. The victory gave India an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the Best-of-Three ODI series, which they eventually won, 2-1.


Anyone who even marginally follows cricket is aware that milestone numbers like "50," "100," "150," and "200," have special significance. Cricket fans are obsessed with discussing if someone reached a "century" in a particular match or how many times a player has reached that mark in his career.

Of course total career runs scored in Test matches or ODIs are also well-respected statistics that people closely monitor. Other statistics that give you a player's average of runs scored per match or his "strike rate" pale in importance to the accomplishment of these milestones.

The latest accomplishment is all the more startling because Tendulkar, always included in any discussion of the all-time great players in the history of the sport, is set to turn 37 this month. Considering that his storied career in international cricket began over 20 years ago as a young 16-year old sensation, it is truly remarkable how he has maintained his level of play.

Tendulkar's recent 200 was the fifth time he had exceeded 150 runs in an inning, the most by any player in history, and the third time in the last 12 months.


After winning the award as the top performer at the 2003 World Cup, Tendulkar seemed to have reached his peak. For several years in his thirties Tendulkar struggled with injuries and it appeared to many that Tendulkar was on the decline.

While Tendulkar still exhibited the great technique and skillful play of a top batsmen, the flashy shots and aggressive stroke play appeared less frequent. It wasn't so much that he wouldn't occasionally remind you of his greatness, but the frequency of his struggles made him appear mortal for the first time.

Even though he had his critics, many people defended him as well. First, insisting that he was still the greatest...but slowly letting that argument go in favor of defending his reduced production.

It was reasonable that his game would become more "cautious" and "practical" with age, they said. After all, how long could he sustain the standard of greatness he had set? With the exception of Brian Lara of the West Indies, no player in cricket had frankly been in Tendulkar's league.

But soon even the reduced compliment of being "one of the best" batsmen in the world began to be modified by some. Sachin Tendulkar, the older incarnation, was "still dangerous" and a "classy player", but was regarded as "one of the better" batsmen in the game. The low point came at the 2007 ODI World Cup when India failed to even qualify for the Super Six for the first time since 1992 and some even suggested that Tendulkar should perhaps sit out and let the younger players have their turn.


However, Tendulkar appeared to slowly regain his old form in the past few years. Since 2008, he has begun to post the scores that many grew accustomed to seeing in his youth. Most impressively, his recent run of form has come against the top International Cricket Council (ICC) ranked countries in the world.

In One Day Internationals since 2008, he has scored six centuries: 117 and 175 against Australia (#1 ODI Ranking), 163 against New Zealand (#4 ODI ranking), and 138 against Sri Lanka (#6 ODI Ranking). His latest 200 was against South Africa, who were ranked #2 in the world. (South Africa has since dropped to #3, behind India who is now #2.)

In Test Matches since 2008, he has scored eight centuries. Most impressive were the following: 154, 153, 109 against Australia (#3 Test Ranking), 160 against New Zealand (#6 Test Ranking), and 106 against South Africa (#2 Test Ranking). His performances have helped the Indian team solidify their #1 Test Ranking.

If you look at the current ICC individual batting ratings for Tests and ODIs, only Tendulkar ranks in the top 7 in both forms of the game. If you combine the ratings to determine the best overall batsmen, Tendulkar, approaching his 37th birthday this month, is back at #1.


Test Matches?

Any discussion of the greatest Test match player of all-time of course begins with Donald Bradman of Australia, whose ridiculous 99.94 runs per innings average is nearly 40 runs better than anyone else. Of course, it is difficult to compare any modern player with Bradman, who finished his test career in 1948. How different was the game back then? What was the level of competition? It is impossible to answer the question with any reasonable level of certainty.

Perhaps the only meaningful comparison was made by Bradman himself before he died when he indicated that watching Tendulkar reminded him of himself.

What is known is that Tendulkar's average of 55.56 runs per innings is the second highest of any player who has played in the past 35 years. Australia's Ricky Ponting is the highest with an average of 55.67 runs per inning. Tendulkar bests second place Ponting in all-time centuries, 47 to 39, and half-centuries, 54 to 51. His 13,447 runs in Test Matches rank him 1st as well, ahead of Brian Lara of the West Indies, who scored 11,953 runs during his career.

One Day Internationals? (It's not even close.)

There is definitely a general feeling in the cricket world that it is appropriate that Sachin Tendulkar should be the first to 200 in One Day International Cricket. The man holds nearly all other significant records in this form of the game.

With 17,598 runs scored, Tendulkar is far and away the all-time run scorer in ODIs. ST Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka ranks second with 13,428 runs. Ricky Ponting of Austrialia is 3rd with 12,895 runs.

Centuries? Tendulkar's 46 far outdistance Ponting's impressive 29. Half-Centuries? Tendulkar's reached that milestone 93 times. Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Huq is second all-time with 83.

Even after some lean years during the 2000's, Tendulkar's average of 45.12 runs per innings is the highest among active players who have scored over 5,000 runs in ODIs, with the exception of his teammate Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose career average is over 50. (Let's see Dhoni keep that up over 10 more years and then he can enter the discussion.)

Thus, there is more than enough evidence to support any argument that Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest cricket player of all time. Other than the numbers, Tendulkar meets all the requirements of special sport superstar: (1) childhood prodigy; (2) greatest of his era; (3) legendary status while still playing; (4) longevity; (5) huge fan following; and (6) respect from all generations of cricket players.

For both his recent and career accomplishments, Sachin Tendulkar is the April Athlete of the Month.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com


  1. Best ever? What about Sobers or Worrell?

  2. Good article to read.
    He is the best player in this era and deserved the applaud of the whole world.


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