There's a poll on the Guardian today asking 'Is Sachin Tendulkar the Best Batsman Ever?', and the results so far have surprised me enormously.
As it stands, 91.5% of voters think the Little Master is the finest batsman to ever grace a cricket pitch, can this be right? I expected it to be marginally in favour of him, partly because its 24 hours since he scored the first ever double hundred in ODIs, and partly because Indian fans are so fanatical about him. But more than 9 in 10 people thinking he's the best ever?!
His numbers are staggering, make no mistake, 31,045 international runs, 240 scores of 50 or betters in 608 matches, that's a fifty every 2.5 matches over a twenty year career - so surely he's the best ever?
One thing is for sure, he's the best batsman of the modern age, whatever that means, let's say the last 40 years. Lara was a great, so too Richards, Ponting likewise and a few others, but Sachin is better.
I'm going to reveal a massive cop-out here - it doesn't make sense to compare Tendulkar with the likes of Bradman and Hobbs. Bradman and Hobbs played in the era of uncovered pitches and both averaged more than Tendulkar in tests, Bradman averaged 99.94 and Hobbs scored 199 First Class hundreds (100 of them after his 40th birthday!).
Tendulkar is playing in the age of professional cricket, indeed he is the ultimate professional, he has played against some of the greatest spin and pace attacks ever (Walsh and Ambrose, Waqar and Wasim, Warne and McGrath, Murali) and has displayed probably the finest longevity of any living cricketer.
Bradman and Tendulkar played in such utterly different eras of cricket that it makes no sense to compare the two. They are both legends of the game and we should be very grateful that we're living to see one of them at the very peak of his powers.
Note: Before he died, Bradman said he thought Tendulkar was the batsman most like himself and it is said that after watching him in the 1996 World Cup Bradman never missed a Tendulkar innings, high praise indeed!
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