'It was almost impossible to upset his composure'

Radio commentator Jim Maxwell on why Tendulkar is so special
November 17, 2013

Tendulkar was loved in Australia and was a favourite of Bradman's © AFP
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You have seen a selection of the best players in your time as a radio commentator. Why did Sachin Tendulkar stand out?
In the last 20 years, Tendulkar is up there with Brian Lara, in terms of batsmen who can dominate and intimidate the opposition. Tendulkar is just ahead of Lara because of his longevity, to last over 20-odd years. Overall, he is No. 2 to Bradman.

How easy or difficult was it to describe Tendulkar's batting?
At the SCG, on India's 2003-04 tour, Australia came up with a tactic under Steve Waugh of bowling a foot outside the off stump, and Tendulkar would still hit them over and through midwicket for four. Then the Chennai Test of 1998 was a delight to describe, because Tendulkar was looking to get after Warne in the first innings and he got caught. In the second innings there was rough outside the leg stump and Warne obviously thought he had a chance of getting him out by bowling into it. Tendulkar clattered him with a dexterous mix of watchfulness and defence and then attack, daring attack - going down and opening up his front foot and hitting Warne out of the rough into the crowd over midwicket for a six.

He just played some phenomenal cricket shots. That was the beauty of his batting, particularly against the fast bowers when he drove straight: he just held his position, absolutely still, played through the line of the ball, sizzled. I always thought someone would pick up and measure his bat - it looked wide. Everything about his batting was so controlled and when he was in, it was almost impossible to upset his composure.

In Australia, on bouncy pitches, against high-quality bowling like McGrath and Warnie, he had the ability to clout and blunt it. That is the other thing everyone needs to remember: Bradman only played cricket in two countries. Tendulkar played cricket everywhere and got runs everywhere.

What's your favourite Tendulkar stroke?
The straight drive, because there was an effortlessness about it. He just eased on the front foot and did not even hit the ball. It would disappear for four. In Perth in 1992, when he got a century, some of his drives on a true pitch, when he hit through the line, were outstanding.

What is your favourite Tendulkar story?
A story around his cricket, which showed his versatility, his qualities as a good cricketer, was his bowling in the second innings of the 2001 Kolkata Test. In a game where he could not do anything with the bat, he turned up late in the game and helped to bowl Australia out with some very good bowling. He could bowl from the front of the hand, back of the hand, fingerspin - he could bowl everything.

Off the field, my favourite story is that once he and some other Indian players went shopping in Sydney and asked how much was the price for the goods they were buying. No one knew who Tendulkar and others were. In India they would have been mobbed. The anonymity of being in a shop and not being mobbed is something people like Tendulkar crave for.

Australia has a strong fascination for Tendulkar. Why is that?
What added to reputation was that Lady Bradman had likened him to the Don. And then he had that meeting with the Don. Since Bradman was the most revered cricketer in Australia, the connection Tendulkar had made made Australians sit back and think, "We have got someone special here." Even though Tendulkar was an opponent, they just enjoyed the virtuosity of his strokeplay and his ability. That is why he was admired.

Radio commentator Jim Maxwell was speaking to Nagraj Gollapudi

Posted by vish2020 on (November 18, 2013, 6:41 GMT)

You guys pick who is greatest: Guy A: 99 average but played in 2 countries with same pitches all his life and the bowlers he faced against not even one make it to all time top ten of bowlers. Guy B: 100 100's and has all batting records, played against the best bowlers in the history of cricket and played all around the globe.

just saying, you can't put sachin at no.2 because bradman has average. it's just not fair to the master.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2013, 4:45 GMT)

Greatness has no fixed dimensions and despite being an Indian, I'd think we should celebrate Tendulkar and Bradman as mutually exclusive greats without trying to compare. Tendulkar's greatness is defined by longevity, adaptiveness and humility. Bradman was a great for consistency. Then there are others like Sobers and Kallis who are greats for being versatile geniuses. Imran for being an amazing leader of men, apart from being a sensational cricketer. The game is bigger than the great players :)

Posted by premclement on (November 18, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

If Bradman has played in just two countries, while Tendulkar has played in at least6 different countries and got runs, why the former is called the greatest batsman and not the latter?

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Zaltz Stats

550,000,000
The approximate number of people in India today who had not been born when Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut in 1989 (calculated from these figures). His batting has been so erotically outstanding that the global population has increased by almost 2 billion during his career, with the biggest increase, understandably, in India itself.

I have played cricket for 24 years, it has been only 24 hours since retirement, and I think I should get at least 24 days to relax before deciding these things.

Sachin Tendulkar doesn't want to think of what lies ahead just yet