Today's an emotional day in India, as legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar competes in his final test match for his country. Described as "the Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan of cricket" by contemporaries, Tendulkar closes his 24-year international career against the West Indies in his home city of Mumbai.
The diminutive Tendulkar made his debut for India as a callow 16 year-old, starring for club and country for nearly a quarter-century and completely rewriting the sport's record books. He was the first batsman in international history to score 100 international centuries (scoring 100 or more runs in a single innings), the first to score a double century in a one day international (ODI), and the first to score more than 34,000 runs in a career.
"It is hard to imagine any player in the history of the game who
combines classical technique with raw aggression like the little
champion does," said legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar in a 2008 article.
No less an authority than Sir Don Bradman, widely considered the greatest batsman of all-time, and the only player thought to be Tendulkar's equal, was a fan. In his biography, it's said that Bradman "...was most taken by Tendulkar's technique, compactness and shot
production, and had asked his wife to have a look at Tendulkar, having
felt that Tendulkar played like him. Bradman's wife, Jessie, agreed that
they did appear similar." Setting aside that business about having his wife look at another dude, that seems to be high praise. Maybe it's some sort of cricket thing.
Tendulkar's rise on the international stage was matched in time by that of his nation, linking him inextricably with India's emergence. Says The Guardian, "For a quarter of a century he was the repository of a nation's hope, its
favourite son, and in so many ways the stages of his journey mirrored
the Indian nation's own progress on the world stage."
Standing a mere (but robust) 5'5", Tendulkar was dubbed 'The Little Master' early in his international career. He became one of India's most beloved sportsman, ranking 51st on Forbes list of most highly compensated athletes even this year, earning $22m despite being well on the downside of his playing run. Derek Jeter is said to hold him in high regard.
In a touching side note to the legendary Tendulkar's swan song, his aging mother, who has never seen him compete in an international test, will break her custom and attend today's match.
So Bite Me, Randy Newman, and a fond farewell to Sachin Tendulkar.
I guess this means 'The Little Master' is up for grabs. I've got some ideas.