Media, players celebrate Tendulkar’s 40th birthday

AP, NEW DELHI

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - Page 19

Media and former cricketers united in celebrating Sachin Tendulkar’s 40th birthday yesterday as speculation continues over when the prolific batsman will end his international career.

Tendulkar, holder of most of the world’s batting records — including most runs and centuries in both Tests and one-day internationals — retired from limited-overs cricket last year, but continues to play Tests, despite watching contemporaries like Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman all step down over the past year.

Most leading Indian newspapers dedicated huge space to Tendulkar in their sports pages, along with columns by former players. Television channels broadcast programs dedicated to his achievements since his international debut in Pakistan as a 16-year-old in 1989.

Tendulkar, who last year became the first batsman to complete 100 internationals centuries during the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, has a total of 15,837 Test runs and 18,426 in one-dayers.

The player dubbed the “Little Master” took little part in one-day cricket after achieving the lifelong ambition of winning a World Cup on his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 2011, and his retirement from the shorter format was no surprise.

Former Australia captain Greg Chappell, who also served as India coach, praised Tendulkar for his long career in a column in the Hindu newspaper.

“While crossing the age of 40 is no big deal for most people, it is a huge milestone in the life of a professional sportsman,” Chappell wrote. “Not many reach that age and are still playing at the highest level; especially if they began their international career as a precocious 16-year-old.”

World Cup-winning former India captain Kapil Dev looked back on Tendulkar’s India debut.

“It was very tough for me to deal with his near-childlike presence in the dressing room,” the former allrounder wrote in a column in the magazine section of the Times of India.

“At that time, he was in the tenth standard [grade], I think. So, for me, he was just a baby,” Dev said. “But what I liked about this young boy was that he had tremendous confidence in his cricket abilities.”