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Living Legend: How Sachin became 'God of Cricket' in popular imagination

He is the most successful batsman in the history of cricket having scored more runs and centuries than any other batsman in Tests and ODIs
Last Updated : 22 April 2023, 08:14 IST

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Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them, wrote William Shakespeare in his play Twelfth Night.

What the greatest playwright of English meant was that some people are born great and don't have to work for it; others have to work hard and find greatness while the third group comprises those who are blessed by fate and are allowed to be great in a surprising manner.

But there is one more category that is born great but nurtures their prodigious talent and by the sheer dint of their hard work enhance their greatness and become the greatest of them all. And then they even surpass that stage and become demigods.

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar falls in this category -- born with talent in abundance, he nurtured it through hard work and through the sheer application of his talent and sweat earned the sobriquet of 'God of Cricket'.

As the greatest cricketer to grace the sport celebrates his 50th birthday on April 24, the world acknowledges him as the living God of Cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar earned his greatness by setting up innumerable records across all forms of cricket and has set a benchmark that would be bettered only by somebody more gifted, hardworking and luckier than him.

Born on April 24, 1973, to a Marathi poet, novelist and litterateur Ramesh Tendulkar and Rajni, who worked in the insurance industry, Sachin Tendulkar could have become anything a boy from the middle class aspires to be.

Instead, he became a cricketer because his elder brother Ajit identified his talent for the game and took him to coach Ramakant Achrekar, his guru, guide, and mentor. He nurtured young Sachin, a mischievous boy, a bully who would get into fights at school regularly and turned him into a demigod of Indian sports firmament, the greatest sportsperson the country has ever seen.

The world got the first glimpse of his talent in 1988 when he and Vinod Kambli stitched together an unbroken 664-run partnership for Sharadashram Vidyamandir School in a Harris Shield inter-school match against St. Xavier's High School. Young Sachin scored 325 not out in that match.

But that did not make him the greatest cricketer of his time. Vinod Kambli scored more runs in that partnership and thus by definition, should have earned as much as Tendulkar did. But that did not happen. Kambli's cricket career was eventful but short.

So, what makes Sachin Tendulkar the God of Cricket?

It is not clear who first used the term God of Cricket to describe him, but the honour has stuck to him like the skin on his short frame with fellow cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli many times referring to him by that sobriquet.

The sheer number of runs, records and achievements is unparalleled -- he is the only cricketer to have notched more than 30,000 runs at the highest level of the game.

In an international career spanning 24 years, Tendulkar has scored 34,357 runs for India across all formats. He is the highest run-getter in Test match cricket, amassing 15,921 runs in Tests and holds the records for most Test centuries (51) and most Test matches played (200). He has also registered the most fours in the format (2058) and is the fastest cricketer to reach 15,000 Test runs.

A pioneer in the shorter version of the game, the former India captain has played the most ODIs (463), scored the most ODI runs (18,426) and has the most centuries in ODI cricket history (49).

He is the first cricketer to score a double century in ODI cricket -- scoring 200 not out against South Africa in an ODI at Gwalior on February 24, 2010. One of the few cricketers to play in six World Cups, he won the most prestigious title in ODI cricket in 2011 at his home ground of Wankhede Stadium.

In 2010, Sachin Tendulkar was declared by Wisden as the greatest cricketer of all time and was honoured with the title of Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2002 -- at 29 becoming the youngest recipient ever and the fifth Indian recipient. In September 2007, he was nominated by ICC as one of five cricketers for induction into the ICC Hall of Fame 2008.

In 2012, Tendulkar was voted by cricket fans as one of their favourite twenty-four players over the past fifty years together with Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Garfield Sobers as well as Shane Warne. The Indian government has honoured him with the Arjuna Award, the Khel Ratna Award, the Padma Vibhushan and the Bharat Ratna, the first sportsperson to get the highest civilian award bestowed by the Indian government.

There are several reasons why Tendulkar is given the sobriquet of the God of Cricket.

He is the most successful batsman in the history of cricket having scored more runs and centuries than any other batsman in Tests and ODIs, has set numerous records and has been accorded all available awards the game has to offer.

But more than his numerous runs, records and achievements in the field, what makes Tendulkar a legend is his sheer perseverance as he overcame career-threatening injuries, periods of loss of form, tragedies like the death of his father during the 1999 World Cup in England, bouts of depression due to failure in the 2007 World Cup and question marks over his unsuccessful captaincy. Many people question his status as the greatest cricketer ever because he failed to lead India to victories in the World Cup and for failing to score for India when needed most.

Despite all this, Tendulkar has inspired many generations of Indian cricketers and is still someone young players look up to. He has never been known to lose his cool in the field and always let his bat do the talking. Tendulkar has not been involved in any on-field or off-field scandals. There have been some controversies but he has always tried to be a model sportsperson throughout his career and has been quite successful at that.

His biggest achievement is that he was the biggest hope for billions of Indians during his playing time and is still an inspiration to many because of his philanthropic work.

Tendulkar has always been a role model for youngsters and has always maintained a high level of integrity both on and off the field. He is someone who has always inspired others with his performances and his attitude toward the game.

It's his overall persona that makes him the greatest cricketer of all time, and for numerous people, the God of Cricket.

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Published 22 April 2023, 07:18 IST

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