English Summer - Eulogies pour for Tendulkar's 100th Test appearance

Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2002, 23:54 [IST]
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New Delhi: Cricket-crazy India on Wednesday put aside a sponsorship row to pay tribute to master batsman Sachin Tendulkar as he prepared to play his 100th Test match.The 29-year-old will become the world's youngest cricketer to make a century of Test appearances when he takes the field in the fourth and decisive Test against England at the Oval on Thursday.Newspapers across India brought out special supplements to mark a special day for what one writer described as the "symbol of a new, resurgent India and the heartbeat of an entire nation".India's captain Saurav Ganguly led the praise in a signed article on the front page of a New Delhi daily headlined "An honour playing with you"."The game is his life and his world knows only one thing -- to score runs," Ganguly wrote. "What amazes me is his hunger and desire to succeed every single time he walks out to play for India."Another daily said, "Tendulkar announced his arrival (in 1989) with India on the cusp of liberalisation, but not quite recovered from the caste politics."Tendulkar's boyish innocence and exuberant, ebullient batsmanship provided the balm (from caste turmoil), the healing touch, the bonding ... in fact the reason to believe that India was still one nation."The papers devoted space to tributes from current and past players from around the world, including former Australian captain Ian Chappell, Pakistani allrounder Wasim Akram and South African paceman Allan Donald."Tendulkar is the best batsman of his era," Chappell wrote. "Slightly better than West Indian Brian Lara and comfortably ahead of any other frontline batsman."For Akram, "The saddest aspect about the breakdown of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan was that Pakistani fans had been deprived of one of the best sights in cricket Tendulkar's batting."It is one of my lasting regrets that I did not get to bowl to Tendulkar in Tests when I was at my peak in the early 1990s."Tendulkar, who made his Test debut in Pakistan, has played only seven of his 99 Tests against the archrivals."Tendulkar exists where we can't," said former teammate Ajay Jadeja. West Indian great Vivian Richards, one of Tendulkar's heroes, refused to be drawn into the batsman's weak points."When a guy is playing like that, you don't look at his batting for faults," Richards said. "I would say he is 99.5 per cent perfect."Fans are hoping Tendulkar's landmark will inspire India to victory in the Oval Test, giving the team and fans the joy of India's first series win outside Asia since 1986.The Indians go into the Test amid a row with the sport's world governing body over the players' refusal to sign sponsorship contracts for next week's 12-nation Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

Copyright AFP 2001

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