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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sachin Tendulkar is born - much more than numbers, the legacy lives on

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century
©REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

April 24, 1973 - You sign in on Twitter and three of the top five trends in India read: #HappyBirthdaySachin #SachinTendulkar and Master Blaster. If by an any chance, you'd forgotten the greatness and the popularity of the man, here's a reminder.

Almost every profile that you follow, be it an individual one, a newspaper, a website or even a corporate, it has a #HappyBirthdaySachin post on their timeline. And, this is almost seven years after he played his last international matches.

Even if you've not lived through the times of Tendulkar's genius on the field - most cricket fans have - you can only gauge the respect that the little man continues to command merely by having a looking at the wishes pouring in on his 47th birthday.

This could have been different had the Australian fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee not rejected Tendulkar's dream of becoming a fast bowler at a Chennai academy. Due to his small frame, Lillee told the youngster to focus on his batting instead. Little would he have known at that moment, that the diminutive kid would go on to become arguably the greatest batsman of all time.

Tendulkar's popularity spread far and wide. Even for a country like the US which does not have a cricket following, apart from the diasporas, President Barack Obama knew Sachin's significance. As Tendulkar retired, Obama confessed that he didn't know much about cricket, but what he did know was that while Tendulkar was at the wicket, US production dropped by 5%.


 In terms of numbers, the Little Master smashed most records and created a plethora of new ones. Although Tendulkar holds the record for the most international runs, most international 100s, most international 50s, most runs in World Cups, most runs in a single World Cup, most 100s in World Cups, most Man of the Match awards in international cricket, most Man of the Series awards in international cricket and what not, his legacy goes far beyond numbers.

200 Tests, 100 international hundreds, 34357 international runs. 15,921 in 200 Tests, 18426 in 463 ODIs and 10 in the only T20 international he played. 2334 runs from 78 IPL games with one century and 13 fifties. 

These are plain numbers. But, numbers do not make memories. The countless Tendulkar memories cherished by the fans were formed over 24 years as the batsman literally carried a billion dreams on his shoulders each time he went out to bat.

Former cricket, writer and now National Selector for England Cricket, Ed Smith puts Sachin's journey well, "Tendulkar's career has coincided with the emergence of India as a world power and an economic giant. So, by a quirk of history, the Little Master has for 24 years been a symbol of the rise of India. Perhaps he did more than that, and helped to inspire it."

When Sachin got out, fans switched off their televisions. 'Sachin: A Billion Dreams' his biographical documentary released in 2017 bears the title for good reason. His career as a Test cricketer began in 1989 and really flourished in the early 1990s, at exactly the point that India emerged from the doldrums of an economic system fraught with protectionism and introversion.

As the Indian economy opened up and money flowed into the country starting 1991, so was bolstered the confidence of the nation, who in cricket much like life, had almost got used to losing more often than winning. For them, Tendulkar brought hope.

It was like the icing on the cake that Tendulkar carried himself like a true gentleman through his 24-year long international career. There was hardly a moment when he lost his cool on the field. This further helped in shaping his icon image.

Through the last decade of the 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st, you could hardly pass an alley in India without encountering Sachin's hoarding. Just like those, his image remains imprinted in the minds of cricket fans as he turns 47.


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