Friday, March 16, 2012

Sachin Tendulkar's Milestone

Three hundred and sixty nine agonizing days after scoring his last century, Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th. He is now the sole owner of 100 100's (51 Test, 49 ODI). That the Little Master's milestone came in a losing cause (Bangladesh defeated India in the Asia Cup ODI by 5 wickets, with 4 balls remaining, at Mirpur, in Dhaka) will probably be forgotten when the achievement is placed in its proper context. This is bound to be a record for the ages. Tendulkar's nearest competitor is the veteran Australian Ricky Ponting with 79 centuries (41, 30). It is almost a certainty that Ponting will not play long enough to score another 21 centuries.

Tendulkar scored his first hundred against England at Old Trafford on August 14, 1990, at the age of 17. He scored his 100th on March 16, 2012, at the age of 38. As of today, he has played in 188 Test matches (311 innings) and 462 ODIs (451 innings) for a total of 650 matches, and has scored more runs than anyone in both the 5-day (15,470) and 1-day (18,374) versions of the game. He was also the first to score a double-century in an ODI test. His sheer professional longevity of 22 years and counting is a testimony to his greatness as a cricketer.

Is there any comparable, untouchable record?

As I see it, there are two.

The first is Australian Donald Bradman's cricket test average of 99.94. The record has stood since 1948. No one has come close and it is safe to say that no one will. Yes, records are meant to be broken, as the cliche goes, but it is inconceivable that one like this will ever be.

The second belongs to the 7-foot-1 basketball player Wilt Chamberlain who scored 100 points on March 2, 1962, playing for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks. It was beyond sensational, beyond belief. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers came closest with his 81 points in 2006 but Bryant had the advantage of the 3-point field goals, unknown in Chamberlain's time.

64 years and counting for Bradman's record, 50 years for Chamberlain's. Shall we give at least 50 years to Tendulkar's?

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