'Mind-bogglingly mountainous numbers'
How will stats nerds like you cope when Sachin retires?
It will be difficult. For 24 years, Sachin has churned out statistics like Indian politics churns out corruption scandals - unceasingly, and with often mind-bogglingly mountainous numbers. But the joy of statistics is that all players generate them. If you had a team of Chris Martins batting against a bowling attack of Alastair Cooks, it would still create stats. Not necessarily stats that anyone would be interested in, but stats nonetheless.
What is your favourite Sachin stat?
In my recent search for Sachin stats to adorn these very pages, a few stood out. In terms of his extraordinary cricketing longevity, my favourite stat was that there is a 45-year age gap between the oldest and youngest international cricketers against whom he has played (from John Traicos, born in 1947; to Kraigg Brathwaite, born in 1992). In terms of his peak batting performances, a stand-out stat was his 52 international hundreds from 1996 to 2002, almost twice as many as the next most prolific centurion in the same period.
There are also some quirkier stats - such as the fact that he has taken more five-wicket hauls in one-day internationals than, amongst others: Shane Warne, Dale Steyn, Kapil Dev, Courtney Walsh, Imran Khan, Zaheer Khan, and Michael Holding (one each); Ian Botham, Malcolm Marshall, former professional Pope John Paul II, canine film-star Lassie, fodder scamster Laloo Prasad Yadav, 19th-century nursing celeb Florence Nightingale, and alleged Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma (zero each).
Which is the one Sachin record that will never be broken?
No one will ever score 100 international hundreds again. I doubt anyone will even come close. It was possible through a combination of (a) extraordinary talent; (b) unusual levels of endurance; (c) historical timing. Current and future players may have one, or occasionally both, of (a) and (b). But with T20 gobbling up increasing swathes of the calendar and altering players' priorities, it almost inconceivable that they will play the volume of international cricket required to match Sachin's hundred haul. The record would be even more impregnable if he had not been out 27 times in the 90s.
How does Don Bradman compare with Sachin as stats phenom?
They are different statistical beasts. Sachin has set records for international run-scoring volume that will probably never be surpassed. Bradman's batting productivity is incomparable. He played in an era of predominantly high-scoring pitches, but he still stood out from his contemporaries more than any other cricketer since WG Grace's even more pronounced superiority in the pre-Test era.
Over the course of his career, Sachin does not have an exceptional Test average - he is in a sizeable group of players averaging in the low- to mid-50s. However, at his turn-of-the-millennium zenith, Sachin was, by most statistical measurements, significantly ahead of his rivals and team-mates in Tests and ODIs (Bevan had a superior ODI average, but aided by a major proportion of not-outs, and with a significantly lower strike rate, and six centuries to Sachin's 32).
Twenty years from now, if someone were to ask you - "How good was Sachin?" - what would you say?
Very good. During his mid-to-late-20s peak, in an global cricketing era of strong bowling, he was one of the finest batsmen there has been. He perhaps played fewer great Test innings and series than some of his team-mates and contemporaries, but as an all-round batsman, technician and run-scorer over an exceptional career-span in both major formats, he was the best of his era.
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on BBC Radio 4, and a writer. He was speaking to Siddhartha Vaidyanathan