1. Greater than the Don?
The Don saw in the God, his own self. The reclusive genius once famously remarked, “I saw him (Sachin) playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I felt that this player is playing with a style similar to mine, and she looked at him on Television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two...his compactness, technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel.” The compliment could not have been greater.
Okay, the question of the “Don vs. the God”may be ludicrous. But remember, while the Don played majorly against one country, Sachin matched wits against 9. The Don did not have to single-handedly carry on his shoulders the burden of a 1.2 billion cricket crazy nation at an incredibly young age. The Don did not have to play all three formats of the game, plus a commercial nonsense called IPL. Those days LBW rules were different. Also technology could dissect the game of every cricketer threadbare. I guess Hanif Mohammed, the legendary opener, settled the argument when he said, “I have seen both Bradman and Tendulkar bat in my lifetime; and in my opinion Tendulkar is the best batsman I have seen in my life”. True, Bradman is rarer than “one in a million,” but of Tendulkar it must be said, “He is the One.”
2. Sheer longevity
24 years is a long time to be playing top flight international cricket. That someone can do that with distinction, without a breath of scandal is breathtaking. That’s why Sachin Tendulkar is our all time favorite. The Time magazine memorably captured the longevity: “When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam, Roger Federer was a name unheard of, Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid, the Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big country, Dr. Manmohan Singh was yet to “open” the Indian economy”. Put more simply, when he came, the Gulf War hadn’t yet happened and when he leaves America would have elected an Afro-American as President twice. 50% of India’s population was born after Sachin debuted.
3. Gravity defying performer
When he hit 100 hundreds, when he scored a ODI 200, Sachin Tendulkar did to cricket what Roger Bannister had done to the world of athletics by running the mile under 4 minutes. He had won the mind game. For sure, someone else will hoist their own flag at cricket’s version of Mt. Everest. Sehwag already did that to Mt 200; but it’s Tenzing Norgay whom we remember because he along with Edmund Hillary proved, “Yes We Can.” He is the top scorer both in the testing Test matches and the equally grueling one-day games. Can you imagine Usain Bolt winning the marathon and the 100 m dash at the Olympics. Spanning different countries, different continents, different generations, he was really and truly legendary. To get a feel of that consider that no man has bagged a tennis grand slam in the Open Era.