By Kersi Meher-Homji
The Indian Down Under
When Sachin Tendulkar comes to town being one of the best cricketer in the world who is not just revered in India but the whole world and is inducted along with Steve Waugh to be Bradman honouree, TIDU’s Kersi Meher-Homji feels honoured to report a proud moment in the history of cricket:
I had been waiting for weeks to see my heroes Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh being honoured as Sir Donald Bradman honourees. And the day finally arrived on Wednesday the 29th October. It was at the SCG, which stands for Sydney Cricket Ground. According to some of his fans, it also stands for Sachin Cricket Ground!
Why? In five Tests in Sydney, Sachin amassed 785 runs at an astounding average of 157.00 hitting three unbeaten centuries with a top score of 241 not out in 2003-04. His sequence: 148 not out in 1991-92 as a teenager, 45 and 4 in 1999-2000, 241 not out and 60 not out in 2003-04, 154 not out and 12 in 2007-08 and 41 and 80 in 2011-12.
At the press conference, the well-suited and smiling Sachin said, “The SCG is my favourite ground. I have always maintained that. It brings back all the memories,” speaking publicly in Australia for the first time in six years. “I was just outside in the car and I said it feels great to be back. It’s been a very social venue to me. Right back to 1991, which was the first time I played here.
“It’s just the feel of the ground. Whenever I walked in I felt I could go on and on batting. I just enjoyed the atmosphere, and the pavilion especially. It’s a fabulous pavilion with a lot of history. It is the heritage and the impact all the players have left on this ground. Performing against Australia always gave me a lot of satisfaction because I knew if you perform against the leading side then everyone takes notice of your performance. It is a different kind of satisfaction.”
Bradman and Tendulkar are universally regarded as two icons of cricket. Sachin recalled that when he and Shane Warne visited Sir Donald in Adelaide for his 90th birthday they were so daunted they couldn’t decide who should speak first.
“I remember Warnie was with me in the car and we were discussing who was going to ask the first question,” Sachin recalled on Wednesday evening. “I said, ‘You are from Australia, so you should start’. And he shot back, ‘No, you’re a batsman, so you can relate to him much better than what I can’.”
The terrific trio of Don, Shane and Sachin had an enthralling evening 16 years ago. “One thing was just to be able to meet the great man but also to know the funnier side of him,” Sachin remembered.
“I asked him a question: ‘what would you have averaged in today’s cricket?’ He thought about it and said ‘Maybe 70’. To my question ‘why only 70 and not 99?’ he replied, ‘C’mon, that’s not bad for a 90-year-old man’!”
Both Sachin and fellow Bradman honouree Steve Waugh recalled the January 2004 Sydney Test which was Waugh’s last. Sachin scored 241 not out and Steve 80 in his final innings. “I took the catch when Steve was on 80 and then rushed to congratulate him on his magnificent Test career.”
Steve recalled that in Sachin’s innings of 241 out of India’s score of 7 for 705 Sachin did not hit a single cover-drive. “If he had he would have probably reached 400!” he said with a smile. He described Sachin as “probably the modern day Bradman.”
Steve also remembered his own dramatic final ball century against England on the SCG in January 2003. “It was one of those balls where it just came off the bat perfectly, it didn’t feel like I hit it hard, and all of a sudden it was like someone turned the volume up,” the former Australian captain said. “It was an amazing experience.”
Sachin concluded that while he had not missed the game after his retirement nearly a year ago, he had always “worshipped cricket”.
After a gala dinner at the SCG, the honourees flew to the Bradman Museum in Bowral by a helicopter the next morning.
Over there Sachin advised the next generation of young boys and girls to give to the game their best without demanding success.
“It should be like your temple,” he said. “Just go and pray. Be in that space because it is a beautiful space.”
Hal Canute, a nine-year-old Bowral Public School student, said not all his classmates had heard of the town’s guest Sachin. However, coming from “a mad cricketing family”, Hal remembered Tendulkar’s positivity and graciousness after matches.
“He’s one of the nicest cricketers in the world,” he said, before correcting himself: “One of the nicest people in the world.”
Coming from a 9 year-old Australian boy, it could be termed the highest compliment a human being can receive.
Below is the complete list of Bradman honourees:
2006 Norm O’Neill OAM (Australia)
2007 Neil Harvey MBE (Aus), Sam Loxton OBE (Aus)
2008 Bill Brown OAM (Aus), Arthur Morris MBE (Aus)
2009 Alan Davidson AM, MBE, (Aus), Dennis Lillee AM, MBE (Aus)
2010 Sunil Gavaskar (India), Adam Gilchrist AM (Aus)
2011 Sir Richard Hadlee (New Zealand), Bob Simpson AO (Aus)
2012 Rahul Dravid (Ind), Glenn McGrath AM (Aus)
2013 Mark Taylor AO (Aus)
2014 Sachin Tendulkar AM (Ind), Steve Waugh AO (Aus).
Gavaskar is the first non-Australian to be made a Bradman honouree.
The 2014 Bradman honourees Steve Rodger Waugh and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar share the same first two initials (SR), used the same brand of bat (MRF), made ten scores of 90s in Test cricket and scored ducks in the first innings of the first Test in Brisbane in 2003-04. Each has scored over 10,000 runs at an average of over 50, hit over 30 centuries and took more than 110 catches in over 160 Tests. Tendulkar scored 15,921 runs at 53.78 with 51 centuries (highest score 248 not out) and 115 catches in 200 Tests; Steve Waugh stroked 10,927 runs at 51.06 with 32 centuries (highest score 200) and 112 catches in 168 Tests.
Tendulkar’s 15,921 runs and 51 centuries in 200 Tests is still a world record.
In 2010, another Aussie – Indian duo of Gavaskar and Gilchrist were made Bradman honourees, followed by Dravid and McGrath in 2012.