It would be hard to argue that Sachin Tendulkar is anything other than the greatest batsman of our generation. The stats speak volumes. Louder than the cheers that rocked the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka when the Little Master finally reached the unprecedented landmark of 100 international 100s. Forget how long it took him to move on from 99 centuries. Forget that the 100th century came against Bangladesh, and forget the fact that India lost the game. They wont be details on everyone's lips when Tendulkar's achievement is talked about for years to come.
This recent staggering accomplishment adds to a list of records held and broken by the Indian star. He has played in more Test matches and ODI's than any other player, scoring the most runs in both formats. He is the only player to have scored a double century in ODI cricket, and the only player to have scored a century against every full member country in Test and ODI formats. And with barely a month to go to his 39th birthday, he doesn't appear to be quitting any time soon.
He has been in the public eye for almost quarter of a century, appearing in the press as far back as 1988, when he was hailed as the greatest schoolboy cricketer ever. He is contradictorily the most idolised player in world cricket, whilst remaining one of the most private and seemingly unaffected by the obsession that surrounds him. That said, Tendulkar himself admitted that the media pressure did weigh heavily on him during the wait for the 100th century to appear.
"It was possibly the toughest phase of my life," Tendulkar admitted. "There was so much hype and attention about the 100th hundred.
"This anticipation and disappointment when I didn't get (the 100th hundred) was way greater than anything else. This is now out of the way and I can start a new chapter. I thought I possibly batted the best in my life, got close in a couple of games but I couldn't achieve it."
Since his international debut in November 1989, Tendulkars' consistency and talent have been apparent. He scores runs all round the wicket, in all conditions, against all oppositions. Most notably, Tendulkar has been at his best against the greatest team of his era: Australia. His 114 in Perth in 1992 on a lethal WACA pitch stamped his supremacy on a country that dominated world cricket for the majority of his career to date. His Test average against Australia is higher in Australia, and six of his ten centuries against them were scored away from home.
It is unlikely, not impossible, but unlikely, that another batsmen will achieve the same feat as Tendulkar, even less likely in our lifetime - Ricky Ponting is closest with 70 international centuries. It makes the achievement not only the most exceptional of our time in the sport of cricket, but in sport in general.
Tendulkar raced from 95 to 99 centuries in under three months leading up to March 2011. The world then waited with bated breath for the next one. What followed was two dismal Test tours for India - a drubbing of 8-0 in all - and twelve months of anticipation for the cricketing world. No matter. If he'd never accomplished this recent triumphant feat, his figures would have remained. As it happens, he reached the milestone, and, as it happens, he probably is the greatest batsman of our generation.
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