All Hail Sachin Tendulkar: Indian Hero, Global Icon

To one-sixth of the world, he is the greatest sportsman of all time.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Sumit Dayal for TIME

Sachin Tendulkar, photographed in Mumbai in April 2012.

It’s difficult to explain Sachin Tendulkar to Americans. Cricket, the world sport he has dominated for over two decades, is impenetrable to most of the U.S., which clings to its guns and baseball, lamentably insensible to the epic narratives of a five-day Test match and the heroism of a budding centurion at the crease. Elsewhere, Tendulkar, a global icon, needs little introduction. In his native India, he is the “master blaster,” the “god of cricket,” a hero to over a billion people desperately lacking in sporting idols. And, on Oct. 10, following the announcement that he would retire next month after playing in his 200th test match at the age of 40, the tributes poured in from Australia to the U.K.

(MORE: TIME’s 2012 Sachin Tendulkar cover story—”The God of Cricket”)

Tendulkar’s career stats are peerless. As a batsman, he has broken almost all the records there are to break. In the history of the sport, no one has racked up more runs in both international Tests and one-day matches. He achieved the unprecedented feat of hitting 100 centuries in international competition: a century is when a batsman scores a hundred runs in one innings. Hitting just one is a mark of prowess; hitting 100 of them seemed unfathomable, or it did until Tendulkar did it. Not for nothing did the Australian Shane Warne, a legendary cricketer in his own right, laud Tendulkar as “the best player without a doubt.” After him, said Warne, there was only “daylight.”

Tendulkar’s greatness, like that of all famed athletes in any sport, is the product of both genius and application, a natural talent honed by a dogged work ethic and hunger for success. When observing his batting, cricket analysts struggled to single out a signature stroke—he was so complete, so skillful, so balanced, so precise in his movement, that every shot he played carried with it its own majesty. His commitment to the game led to an international career spanning 24 years, starting in 1989 on enemy territory in Karachi, Pakistan, when he was just a 16-year-old kid.

That kid is now India’s most beloved star, a champion with a World Cup to his name and myriad other trophies. A whole generation of Indians—roughly half of the country’s over 1.2 billion population is under 25—only knows the Age of Sachin, an era that began with the country mired in stagnation and economic crisis. As Tendulkar’s career powered forward, so did India’s liberalizing reforms, its growth rate galloping ahead. Decades-old anti-colonial resentments and inferiority complexes faded in the face of a newfound confidence, embodied, it seemed, in Tendulkar—all five feet and five inches of him, an Indian colossus on the world stage.

In terms of public regard, Tendulkar rises well above the glitzy celebrity of Bollywood and the tawdry muck of Indian politics. His persona is humble, honest, kind. He didn’t date a string of supermodels (or at least, not that we know); his wife is a pediatrician, shielded from the public eye. He speaks in a thin, slightly high-pitched voice, not unlike that of English soccer icon David Beckham—though it’s unimaginable Tendulkar would ever be subject to the sort of derision, cynicism and scandal heaped on the latter.

Still, there is not a single athlete, perhaps in the history of all sport, who has had to shoulder a greater burden of expectation. Cricket is all in India — a nation, which despite its enormous size, is a minnow in most other sports —  and Tendulkar was the Chosen One. For each Indian setback, he has had to bear a billion cries of disappointment. But in the last decade or so, as Tendulkar starred, cricket’s gravitational axis swung definitively away from its twee upper-class origins in the U.K. to the hurly burly of India’s slums, streets and cricket grounds. A flashy, lucrative league sees the world’s best players line-up every year for franchises in Indian cities—the former colony now the seat of the empire.

A new, brasher generation of players entered the Indian team and led to the country’s cricketing apogee in 2011, when it won the World Cup in Mumbai, Tendulkar’s home city. At the end of the game, though the “Little Master” may not have been the top player on the night, he was scooped up on the backs of his teammates and paraded around on a lap of honor. “He has carried the burden of a nation for 21 years,” said one emerging star of the team then. “It is time we carried him on our shoulders.” That’s a moment any sports fan, anywhere, must rise and cheer.

80 comments
vivek_sathe
vivek_sathe

Dont know how popular is this saying... Walking Elephant doesnt care of barking dogs. I am sure Sachin is enjoying the true meaning of that...

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

ANADI JI... And say if i was a player and get a back pain during a match and if it doesnt bother me very much, trust me, no body in the world will know that i played with a back pain... THIS IS CHEAPNESS JUST TO GET THE SYMPATHY OF THE WORLD... if he need medical attention get it and say its cured and never show the world the pain... SO SACHIN TENDULKAR IS VERY CHEAP... YOU WORSHIP I HAVE NO ISSUES... BUT IF YOU COME TO ME AND SAY HE IS CAPABLE I WILL PUT FORWARD EVIDENCES TO PROVE YOU ARE WRONG.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Anadi Ji.. and if it was a severe back pain that get him injured for life, he will never ever play the game, because his career is foremost for him and not the country's interests. a better batsman than sachin is definitely SIR DON BRADMAN and a better fielder than Jonty i havent searched but Jonty is not a god so there may be other fielders who competes him, we are talking about THE INCAPABLE GOD, so let us dont bring humans into the picture. the last part is true, noone is playing the game without pay, everyone is playing for pleasure + money, if money stops tomorrow they will stop playing but let me not bring others.. we are talking about a god who is below a god's standard.. So this god is also batting for pleasure, batting for records and batting for money... and not for anything else..

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

The WORLD OF TIME IS FULL OF CHEAPNESS... look at the contribution of this Global Icon on the BIG STAGE (World Cup Finals) - 4 Runs (2003) and 16 Runs (2011)... NOT EVEN A QUARTER CENTURY... (i will never hail this batsman, he played for money and records)

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian.. now lets look at the better ODI averages Michael Clark (45.12), Richards (47.00), Dhoni (51.45), De Villiers (48.88), M Hussey (48.15), Greenidge (45.03) and J Kallis (45.26) - these are the glorious 7 who are ahead of Tendulkar in ODIs.. NOW DONT SAY ABOUT HIS 100 Centruries and Highest Career Runs... any idiot who plays long will certainly score more than others... IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL... Look at SIR DON... PLAYED LESS and SCORED MORE ... THAT IS GREATNESS...

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian... These are better Test match averages of other ordinary batsmen Sangakkara (56.98), Hammond (58.45), Hutton (56.67), Barrington (58.67), Hobbs (56.94) am not included Kallis (56.10) and THE GREAT SIR DON (99.94) - these are the glorious 7 who are ahead of Tendulkar

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

MARIAN.. talking about AVERAGE, i was just going through the records, there is a human cricketer called Jacques Kallis who comes with a better average on both forms of the game 56.10 (Tests) & 45.26 (ODIs) Sachin has just 53.86 (Tests) & 44.83 (ODIs)

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

MARIAN... 53 is an average for good batsman like LARA, PONTING etc. and not for the class of TENDULKAR... Tendulkar was born to beat the 99 of Sir Don Bradman... and look how far behind is he from destiny... (MARIAN... AM WAITING TO SEE HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR SACHIN FANS LIKE YOU TO PULL ME DOWN) TRY TRY & TRY

Anadi Tyagi
Anadi Tyagi

Mr. Manoj..1. if you want to consider Sachin as a plate of food then lets imagine a Big plate from which 1 Billion peoples are eating including you and me and if someone eating from my plate says I'm eating trash then I have every right to explain and oppose(I'm not eating trash its best dish ever). Yes! he earned Billions and he deserve every single one of it. 2. you said "if he truly loved the game, he would've improved his fielding skills.. he didnt," so according no one was/is ever loved any game cz Pele, Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo none od them are good defenders and they never learned it same with Dhyanchand and even Bold don't love running cz he can't win a marathon.

Ali Bokhari
Ali Bokhari

A great cricketer , legendary carrer.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

RAGHAVA & MARIAN ... Most of you like Sachin for his Character... guys do that during a tournament where the character is tested, and not when his cricketing abilities are discussed... if you like it or not... The Sachin in your heart must score atleast 300-400 centuries from 700 matches ... 100 is nothing... absolutely nothing... THATS TRUTH... AND TRUTH HURTS...

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Raghava... Sachin may be a good human, but on a cricket field we want a great cricketer and not a great human... you give marks to sachin for his character, no issues but never add it to his cricketing ability. See never anyone said to me that am jealous i always feel am the opposite of that word. i support Dravid, Laxman (he is slow in the field, but he is human, so we can forgive), Ganguly is bit arrogant, I like Gambhir for his performances in the World cup finals, Like Sehwag, i honestly like Sachin's batting what i disagree is Sachin could have really scored 400-500 centuries, believe me he could've. But Sachin is aged he should've retired on 36 or 37 he is 3-4 years late.. he says he loves playing for India but he must not forget that every other cricketer have the same dreams. so when our body gets slow, we must make way for the next person waiting, thats decency, we must never deny a person's opportunity.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

2. you dont have to consider different parameters when judging a God, because his opponents are silly humans who are never perfect.. so the perfect GOD must win all the time. and in every match he is facing humans, every match is an opportunity for him to score a century, bowlers very rarely come up with unplayable deliveries and its too easy for a god to hit it for a six.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Raghava... YOU MUST KNOW THAT YOU ARE DEFENDING THE BATSMAN WITH PERFECT TECHNIQUE AND TERMED AS GOD BY MILLIONS OF INDIANS... and as you are aware NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE TO THE GOD... do you need these many lines to defend a god to a silly human like me. 1. Match before FINALS are not great... THE GREATEST STAGE IS THE FINALS and THE GOD MUST PERFORM WELL and not just 4 (2003) and 16 (2011) not even a quarter century is scored

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian... ipl is not on national colours come up with something when he is on national duty... a world cup final or something like that.. 2. i cant take away the god thing because majority of indians is terming him as god 3. if i dont get evidence... you come up with youtube videos which proves me wrong, your evidences is quite enough to prove am wrong, i dont have to come up with it 4. He was only commited to BATTING and not CRICKET...

Marián Verešš
Marián Verešš

first: take away gods, fake or "real", Im not discussing gods; second: you are using the phrase "never ever" too often; to your question: yes, I saw him diving in full stretch in the field - I believe, it was in IPL match, (2011?), it was on cover or extra cover; here are some other examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gITgomZ72OI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV0S1NNVnpw maybe it is not the full stretch as you like it, but its for sure very close; but that is not the point; the point is, that you are claiming what you cannot support with evidence; you are presenting your opinions as the facts of life; honestly: did you saw every practice of ST? how on earth do you know, what he did practiced, or not? * I think, there is no reason to continue in this debate, it leads to nothing; so have a nice day

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian... did i say other players are playing not for money... other player are normal players... i am talking about a fake god.. so when you compare bring only fake gods into the picture and not other normal players... is there a rule anywhere that we must take bath each day? why are people taking bath then? so we are here to follow the best way.. and not just the things written as rules... (well thats my opinion) you may follow only the rules... But i wont support a fake god who is not following the best practices and i will definitely criticize all fake gods who dont follow the best practices... have you seen sachin tendulkar diving in full stretch in the field? sachin is not playing a street match.. you are playing for the country and when the ball goes past you, you should fly to stop it. Sachin tendulkar never ever practiced to take catches that needs to fly in the air. Never ever... and only few people like me are unhappy.. there are many players who are not doing it.. but am talking about a fake god others are normal.. so he should fly to stop a ball going past him.. because the media, experts and his teammates are all praising Sachin Tendulkar that he is very committed to the game... HE IS NOT.. he is only committed to batting and not cricket NEVER EVER...

Marián Verešš
Marián Verešš

"who dedicate their life to the game will never ever remain below par fielders" - never ever? is there some rule for this? Im pretty sure, there is no such rule, but there is for sure something like "value of the player for the team" - if some player is exceptional good bowler or batsman, his most effective contribution to the team effort will be (obviously) by bowling/batting and he can save some runs by fielding on less exposed fielding position; are you seriously arguing, that more or less specialised players do love cricket less than all-rounders? money... are the others playing for a beer and sandwich? this is their job, so they are getting paid for it.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian... i hope you do know the game of cricket, some batters are only like to bat they dont like to waste time and sweat on the field and some others like Sachin are afraid getting injured. Sachin dont like to happen that which will bring an end to his career and money. But those who dedicate their life to the game will never ever remain below par fielders they will train to be a good fielder who can save many runs, which will help the team win the match.

Marián Verešš
Marián Verešš

Manoj, explain this to me please: "if he truly loved the game, he would've improved his fielding skills.. he didnt," (thank you)

Raghava Chandra
Raghava Chandra

I will ask you one question - 1) First do you believe ur idea only ? or majority ? or analytical person ? its not to hard run but it needs technique to drive ball into a gap. ...... 2)I and every cricket fan acknowledge the input of Ghambir n dhoni at finals, I too mention before gmabhir is shadowed in final presence, but speaking only abut final is not correct ....if you know the importance n difference between Man of the match n Match the series u can understand what actualy matters....... guess who has most no of man of the matches in the world cup? your eyes can only see taj mahal not the builders ...I accept it is a team effeort, but you pointing only sachin so iam point y not sachin? Apart sachin there are 10 players are they r not responsible ? 3) sachin average in world cup - 32, 42, 47,54,61,87 .... highest run scorers in WC 1996, 2003, 2007 occasions are not only in finals .....u speak only abut final ....see the whole world brother 3)when ur making comparative analysis make sure that different parameters like bowling strength, fielding skill, technology even dressing like light weight bats, pads etc each make sports person to perform well and make them to compete hard .... u cannot compare don with sachin in this case. 4)Its our stupidity to expect 100 in 2 matches so that he can make 400-500. If I go on speaking about parameter, this page is not sufficient ..... I respect him not because of his batting, I hardly knew abut it but he is always softspoken he was given maximum no of wrong dismissals, but he never utter a word or shown any sense of disgust he was inspiration to many cricketer in our team, I hope Kohli breaks sachin reords but who was the inspiration for Kohli ? do you ever seen him in quarrel or sledging ? do you know what charity workd he did ? when construction of his house going on, he sent letters to neighbors apologizing for inconvenience If you want know stats go to google, if you want to know his good nature ask true admirer like me may be it is beoz of ur jealous on sachin's fan following or people like me making to hate sachin not sachin himself ..... I am happy tht u expect so much from sachin? The itself self explanatory what sachin made u think like ....Jai Hind!

Mukesh Verma
Mukesh Verma

just to quote "It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will ".......

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

what so much are you talking about Mr. Tyagi... when the more nice guy RAHUL DRAVID had to go out no one was bothered its not just Tendulkar but DRAVID, Laxman and Ganguly who helped india go through that winning track... forget me.. am just one person.. there are no much Tendulkar haters in India... And please dont forget Tendulkar is not denying a single day's pay from BCCI... HE EARNED MILLIONS... ( and please dont deny freedom of opinion/expression to people like me who has done nothing to the nation or for anyone) when you go to a restaurant i think you have the right to judge the food and you dont need to be a cook yourself... anyone is eligible for opinions... the least intellect to the most intellect...everyone can say their opinion... i hope you will happily agree..

Vikramaditya
Vikramaditya

@Manoj Babu Andrews Are you that famous cricketer who notched up 101 centuries? No? What a pity! The opinions of those who have excelled in the sport and definitely worth more than yours. Shane Warne, for instance. Even Sir Donald Bradman, who famously remarked about the similarities he saw between Tendulkar and himself. Also, Sir Donald Bradman's career was interrupted by this little event known as World War II. You may or may not have heard of it. The Americans, who Ishaan needlessly criticized in the first paragraph, were instrumental in World War II. You should give it a read sometime. Had it not been for the War, Bradman would have easily played a lot more test matches. He didn't pick 52 because that was his lucky number (it might have been, but that is not the point...)

Anadi Tyagi
Anadi Tyagi

Mr. Manoj Babu Andrews, I think a guy who has done NOTHING for his country should AT LEAST respect a guy who did So Much for His Country!!

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Raghava... there was expectations and pressure on every great players be it Bradman, Lara, Tendulkar, Sobers, Richards, Ponting etc... Do you know Adam Gilchrist scored 2 50s and 1 big hundred on all the World Cup Finals he played for.. (1999, 2003 and 2007) and even Gautam Gambir was the Top scorer of both the world cup finals he played 75 (2007 T20 World Cup Final) and 97 (2011 World Cup Final)... Gilchrist and Gambhir too carried the same pressure like Tendulkar... Why didnt Sachin do it in 2003 and 2011 World Cup Finals... (and Raghava... i can see how BIG IS SACHIN in the hearts of fans like YOU) that BIG SACHIN MUST SCORE ATLEAST 400 to 500 CENTURIES in 700 MATCHES... 200 (tests) and 463 (ODIs) why are you guys not seeing it... HIS PICTURE IS BIG AND HIS RECORDS ARE SMALL... not fair..

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

RAGHAVA... everyone who plays for the national side in a full capacity stadium carry the same pressure... at the crease he just have to hit the ball through the gaps and run HE DONT NEED TO CARRY THE SPECTATORS ON HIS SHOULDER AND PAMPER THEM... its not at all hard RUNNING AFTER HITTING THE BALL THROUGH THE GAPS... if the tail enders can get 10-20 runs then scoring a century by a technically correct batsman IS NOT AT ALL A BIG DEAL... AND AFTER PLAYING 6 WORLD CUPS did he won a world cup for India? the 2011 world cup was won by Gambhir (97) and Dhoni (91*) and not by Tendulkar's (16)... a person who has character will never ever claim credit for a win unless he is the hero of the final... Since sachin dont have great character he said he felt satisfied that he was able to win the world cup for India. if you score centuries in all matches and fails in the final wont make you a champion ... you have to WIN THE FINAL to claim the credit... and BIG PLAYERS RISE ON BIG OCCASIONS... sachin is never a big player got out for 4 (2003 World Cup Final) and got out for 16 (2011 World Cup Final).... and hence RAGHAVA is also out for 1... :-)

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

What was truly remarkable about Tendulkar was his simplicity. A genius with the bat, every record under the sun and yet humble to the core. This is why he was a role model on and off the cricket ground. India produces gems like Gandhi and Tendulkar. People who are gifted but never allow this to impact their behavior

Jim Martin
Jim Martin

I have never played the game but it looks like it would be fun.

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

no i dont know.. am from a non-english speaking nation... sorry... If the word is unsuitable in the area you live in please appologize... to me everyone who underperforms is an idiot... thats the meaning of 'idiot' in my own dictionary. :-)

Fred Sagwe
Fred Sagwe

What about Pele..??Am spellbound ..

Shashibhushan Swt
Shashibhushan Swt

sachin is my favorite star form childhood ....i think this time is best time for retirement....

Eshan Walter
Eshan Walter

@Jim: ONCE UPON A TIME "GAME OF GENTLEMEN"

VasantSingh
VasantSingh

i'm proud that the greatest ever player Mr. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar played for India, played for Cricket wolrd... the trio played for my country and world. After Sachin, this is the end of en era... the era of Magical trio of Cricket.. Sachin, Dravid,Ganguli.... they will be inspiring the generations...!!

iampunX
iampunX

Watched the embedded video and it brought tears to my eyes..

Manoj Babu Andrews
Manoj Babu Andrews

Marian... am just a spectator... but i think we dont need to be a cook to judge the food... do we?

Marián Verešš
Marián Verešš

"this idiot" - are you judging him by yourself, Mr. Andrews?

alex_990
alex_990

@Manoj Babu Andrews you know what? No great person is 100% loved. Look at gandhi, lincon, martin luther king etc.. i look up to you and feel the same. I feel sorry that you lack the capability to understand the greatness of a person. I am really sorry. Just look at your self in the mirror and ask your self "What am I saying wrong that the 99% of people consider right?" Youll then probably and i repeat probably realise what a utter CRAP are you writing

alex_990
alex_990

@Marián Verešš Barking dogs seldom bite. Please understand that the guy who you are arguing with has no potential to see the genuis of the master. Consider him to be a blind person walking on the road....how will be be able to distinguish a BMW with a maruti?? Kindly feel sorry for him for he cant see the talent what we can see...Ahh that serene straight drive....I know how it feels :)