London: Former England fast bowler Angus Fraser believes that Sachin Tendulkar is the biggest name that the sport of cricket has ever seen, and is looking forward to the master scoring his 100th international ton at Lord`s on Thursday.
Recalling that he was in the England squad that saw a baby-faced Tendulkar scoring his first century on English soil, Fraser says in an article for a daily that he saw Tendulkar receiving throw downs from Jock, the MCC Young Cricketers` assistant coach, and Nayan Doshi, the former Surrey left-arm spinner.
He said that when he asked them both how long they had been at it, they wearily said for an hour, and added that they expected him to continue for another hour or so.
“The encounter told you everything you needed to know about Tendulkar, and why he remains cricket`s greatest modern player. Here, after 22 years of international cricket, 730 international appearances, 32,803 international runs and 99 international hundreds was a man still working harder and more diligently at his game than most, if not all, of the young pretenders posturing to take his throne,” says Fraser.
“This was not a man resting on his laurels, a man who believed he had cracked the game. This was a man who knows that getting to and remaining at the top is only achieved through hard work and by paying attention to detail,” he adds.
Angus recalls that back in 1990, he did not remember Tendulkar occupying a huge amount of the England cricket team’s time at meetings during that series.
“Yes, we were aware that we were playing against a highly-rated 17-year-old who looked pretty tasty. But at the time it was the genius of Mohammad Azharuddin who was occupying the focus of England`s bowlers. Azharuddin had struck a brilliant 83-ball hundred against England in the first Test at Lord`s and a thrilling 179 in the first innings at Old Trafford. Tendulkar was good, but nobody would have predicted him achieving what he has,” Fraser writes.
He says that during a 15- to 20-year career, the technique of a player changes, but in Tendulkar’s case, there hasn’t been much change.
“With Tendulkar this is not the case. At the start of his career he was slighter in build and in his stance his legs were a bit straighter; a set-up that resulted in his head occasionally falling over to the off side. But the range of stroke played by the Little Master back in 1990 was similar to now,” says Fraser.
“Tendulkar`s greatness comes from his consistency and longevity. Many players are capable of producing the occasional moment of brilliance but very few can sustain a level of performance that is truly outstanding for more than 20 years. This is not achieved through possessing a god-given talent; it is achieved through having a deep love of the game, a passion that drives you to regularly spend two hours quietly batting on your own away from the spotlight and millions of fans,” he writes.
“Tendulkar`s brilliance runs far deeper than the gift of batting. No cricketer has ever had to cope with the attention and pressure he has. The fact that he has dealt with such intrusion, adoration and expectation and still managed to remain humble and human is as great a feat as compiling the runs he has. It is hard to imagine how the cricket-crazy Indian public will cope with his retirement. It will be like a monarch passing away,” he concludes.