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Sachin Tendulkar's retirement: A look at the 'Little Master's' route to greatness

Joe Drabble reflects on Sachin Tendulkar's rise from teenage prodigy to global superstar

Sachin Tendulkar leaves the field after making his maiden Test century against England in 1990

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At 14-years-old I was still working out how to put my pads on. At the same stage of life Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar had already blasted 329 not out in a school match.

It was from there on that the records started tumbling at an incredible rate for the boy from Bombay.

Boy officially became man when the fresh-faced 15-year-old became the youngest Indian to score a century on his first-class debut. His breakthrough effort came for hometown Mumbai against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy and was the start of a remarkable professional career.

An international call-up to India was inevitable and his Test debut arrived against bitter rivals Pakistan in the cauldron of Karachi in 1989 where Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis 'welcomed' the then 16-year-old to the Test arena.

Little did Tendulkar know that for the next 24 years he would carry the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders.

Warne pays tribute to Tendulkar

Challenge

After acquitting himself well on tours of Pakistan and then New Zealand, it was to be in England, typically, where Tendulkar announced himself as a future star.

Graham Gooch's England had no answers at Old Trafford as Tendulkar's maiden Test century at the age of 17 helped India secure an unlikely draw in the second Test of the series.

It was to be the first of four Test hundreds the 'Little Master' would score on English soil and perhaps the greatest injustice is that he, alongside S.K.Warne, failed to earn a place on the Lord's Honours Board.

What sets Tendulkar apart from the other greats of his era is his record all over the globe. He averaged over 40 in every nation, thriving against the all-conquering Australia team, posting 11 centuries and 16 50s in 39 matches against the Baggy Greens.

Tendulkar tormented Australia throughout his career

His first taste of life Down Under was a bittersweet one in 1991/92. India lost the series 4-0 but Tendulkar, 19 at the time, rose to the challenge with sublime centuries in Sydney and Perth.

Established at No 4 in the Test side by this point, Tendulkar then introduced himself to Allan Donald and co in South Africa with a century in Johannesburg. South Africa would later witness Tendulkar become the first player to score 200 in a one-day international.

No nation could escape the Tendulkar onslaught, Sri Lanka and West Indies were on the receiving end of 100s in 1993 and '94 respectively before the 'Little Master' returned to England in '96 to inflict more woe on Atherton's beleaguered bowling attack.

Tendulkar tributes

New Zealand had done well to contain Tendulkar but he was to address the balance in style in 1999 in Ahmedabad, reaching 200 for the first time in Test cricket and then reaching the same mark against Zimbabwe a year later.

High totals against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are often disregarded by cricket purists and although Tendulkar looks set to retire with a career-best 248 not out against Bangladesh, it was his sublime 241* against Australia at the start of 2004 which stands out as what he admits was "right at the top of my hundreds."

In what was to be Steve Waugh's last Test for Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Sachin added 353 for the fourth wicket with VVS Laxman, another consistent tormentor of the Australians, to help India secure a series-clinching draw.

Emotional

But what about his record in India, where not only did Sachin have the pressure of carrying the team, but also of millions of adoring fans.

Unsurprisingly, it's pretty incredible. Scoring 22 centuries and 31 fifties at 52.82 under such an intense atmosphere is superhuman-like all things considered and it was to be on home soil where his two most magical cricketing moments came.

Sachin celebrates winning the 2011 World Cup on home soil

Just weeks after a series of fatal terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, Tendulkar produced an emotional match-winning century against England.

Set 387 to win on the penultimate afternoon, Tendulkar helped India achieve the highest run chase on home soil and the fifth-highest in the history of the game, fittingly hitting the winning boundary to bring up both victory and his century.

A World Cup-winning medal has eluded many great players during their careers and Tendulkar, his team-mates and his nation knew that the 2011 event played in India and Bangladesh was his last opportunity.

He didn't disappoint. Two tournament centuries played their part as co-hosts India won the title with Tendulkar held aloft on the shoulders of his team as Mumbai and India partied long into the night.

His retirement has long been on the cards since that magical moment and with all nations conquered, 100 international hundreds and 200 Test matches under his belt, he and bowling attack across the globe can finally sleep easy.

Watch our Sachin Tendulkar Special tonight at 7pm on Sky Sports 3.

Is Sachin Tendulkar the greatest batsman of all time?

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