World cricket’s little giant


His small stature belies the giant shadow he casts in international cricket. South Africans recently had the chance to see the greatest batsman of our era – if not of all time – in action.

Sachin Tendulkar (37) was back at his best as the Proteas and India battled it out for the world’s top Test spot.

The first Test against India at SuperSport Park, Centurion, in December was a game of several records but the applause belonged to Tendulkar.

A single off Dale Steyn, the world’s top bowler, took him to 100 for an incredible 50th time. His teammates and everyone in the stands were on their feet.

Cricket is often a battle against chance – an unlucky bounce reduced to statistics and numbers, runs scored or wickets taken. But occasionally a player comes along who shows the game can also be a thing of beauty. Sachin Tendulkar is such a player.

His father, Ramesh – a language professor, poet and writer – wasn’t a cricket fan but encouraged his son.

‘‘When it came to choosing between cricket and university he said, ‘You can play cricket. I know it is your first love so go for it’,’’ Sashin recalls.

Slashing Sachin, as cricket writers call him, is a rare sporting marvel: a prodigy who fulfilled the potential he showed when he played for India as a 16-year-old. He’s shown the resilience and desire to maintain top-level performance.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith remembers watching Tendulkar when India toured SA after the country’s readmission to international sport. As an 11-year-old discovering cricket Smith was amazed by the Indian star’s skill.

‘‘All these years later he remains a great ambassador for cricket,’’ he says.

‘‘He started scoring Test hundreds before I can remember and he still manages to maintain amazingly high standards.’’

Read all about this remarkable cricketer in YOU, 13 January 2011.

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