The stifling suspense and the prolonged wait finally came to an end as Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar on Friday (October 17) emerged as the highest run-accumulator in Test cricket’s history, staking a legitimate claim as the best batsman cricket has known since Don Bradman, both aesthetically and statistically.
After his mission incomplete in Bangalore, Tendulkar redeemed himself in Mohali in his 152nd Test and West Indian legend Brian Lara was toppled from the highest Test run-accumulator’s pedestal. Test debutant Peter Siddle sent down the first ball of the post-tea session. Tendulkar glided it to third man for three runs to surpass Lara’s record of 11,953 runs and raise the bar even higher for posterity.
Relieved to have achieved the milestone that eluded him in Bangalore, an overwhelmed Tendulkar took the helmet off and looked upwards in a silent prayer and suddenly all the hostility surrounding the Indo-Australian Test series evaporated as Ricky Ponting and his men came to shake hands with him.
Sourav Ganguly walked down from the non-striker’s end, patting him on the achievement and firecrackers went off around the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in a pre-Diwali celebration to mark the golden moment in the history of Indian cricket.
Tendulkar arrived here with 11,939 runs against his name from 151 Tests, averaging 54.02 hitting 39 centuries in the process. His ODI record put together– he tops the run-accumulator’s chart there too with 16,361 runs — Tendulkar has scored more than 25,000 international runs with the help of a mind boggling (42+39) 81 centuries and 138 half-centuries.
And all those runs flowed from the blade of someone who, rather reluctantly, swapped leather-flinging with willow-wielding after a blunt Dennis Lillee told the 12-year-old aspiring fast bowler in a Chennai camp that he had no hopes as a pacer. Or probably the blame actually lies with Waqar Younis.
Tendulkar was hit on the mouth by Waqar in his debut Test series in Pakistan with dripping blood drenching the shirt of the cuddly teen with curly hair. Nineteen long years since the incident and bowlers around the world continue to bleed even to this day for a folly of one of their predecessors. Worse, the torment is far from over.
Almost as a matter of revenge, Tendulkar lorded over the bowlers since that 1989 series, eclipsing virtually every batting record and piling on mountain of runs and setting new benchmarks for batsmanship in the process.
Impeccable technique, perfect temperament and unflinching commitment to his craft have made Tendulkar a paragon of all batting virtues and his single-minded determination and an incredible ability to insulate himself from anything unwarranted have only added to his aura.
With no real chink in his batting armour, bowling to him is often a trauma for the bowlers, although Shane Warne preferred to call it nightmare. Equipped with every shot in the book and endowed with the flair to blend routine with recherché, Tendulkar grew in stature with ever game before eventually attaining cult status. Don Bradman anointed him as his heir and euphoric Indians fans deified him.
He did burn his fingers with captaincy before renouncing it but the aura and idolatry remained intact. Unlike others, his name is not debated in selection meetings. They just enquire about his fitness. Loudmouth opponents like Australia refrain from sledging him, not as a favour but out of fear as it often brings out the best in Tendulkar. Bowlers fancy his scalp and whenever hit for a boundary, considers it comeuppance.
For his legion of fans, Tendulkar has been nothing sort of a messiah. Every time he walked out in the middle and took guard, he was expected to excel, regardless of opposition, condition and everything else. And on most occasions, Tendulkar did just that and his cult grew.
His impeccable demeanour on and off the field and a childish love for the game have endeared Tendulkar to all, making him a genuine ambassador of the game. With this new feather added to his already well-decorated cap, Tendulkar is now in a league of his own.
List of world’s top Test cricket batsmen after Sachin Tendulkar broke Brian Lara’s record to become the leading run scorer today (Name, country, Tests, runs, centuries):
Sachin Tendulkar (IND) 152* 11,955 39
Brian Lara (WIS) 131 11,953 34
Allan Border (AUS) 156 11,174 27
Steve Waugh (AUS) 168 10,927 32
Rahul Dravid (IND) 127* 10,341 25
Ricky Ponting (AUS) 121* 10,239 36
Sunil Gavaskar (IND) 125 10,122 34.
Besides Tendulkar, only Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting are the active cricketers in the list while Brian Lara, Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Sunil Gavaskar have already retired.