Author : Lynn Butler
South Africa has great respect for the Little Master
Sachin Tendulkar is one of the best players that the cricketing world will ever see. In a career spanning 24 years in international cricket, Tendulkar has played 664 international matches, scoring 34,357 runs in all formats.
Tendlukar not only has inspired his homeland but also many around the world. South Africa is no exception. Considering the commotion that he has created on the field against South African opposition, he still receives a modest and huge reception when he comes to the crease at any South African arena.
The Little Master has played 83 matches in all three-formats against South Africa with 3,752 runs with an average of 38.28. Not the best average against South Africa, but surpass it and you still find an amazing cricketer. Not only does Tendulkar share memorable innings against South Africa but he leaves a glow in the hearts of players and spectators alike.
Tendulkar’s first tour to South Africa was in 1992 at the tender age of 19. That tour produced his first hundred against South Africa, 111 off 270 balls in Johannesburg on the 26th of November 1992.
In the era where bowlers like Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Brian McMillan, Dale Steyn and many others featured, Tendulkar managed 12 centuries, including a heroic performance at Sahara Park Newlands in 1997.
In that match, India were defeated by 282 runs but Tendulkar along with Mohammad Azharuddin were the only Indian batsmen to show some sort of resistance to the South African pace attack, with a 6th wicket partnership of 222, Tendulkar top-scoring with 169.
Another famous innings against South Africa was on the 24th of February 2010 in Gwalior, Tendulkar became the first batsman in the cricketing world (at that time) to hit a double century in ODI (One Day International) cricket. Tendulkar hit a blistering 200* off a mere 147 balls with 28 boundaries.
Not only is he one of the best batsmen but he has also taken 25 wickets against South Africa with his best figures of 4-56 in a one-day game in March 2000.
Apart from the patriotic support South Africa has for their home side, whenever India tour the country, support for the Indian team is never diminutive. An India tour has always given South African stadiums sold-out crowds with many coming especially to see the Little Master.
Many in India do not know, South Africans ‘mourning’ of Tendulkar’s retirement. It has headlined news broadcasts and newspaper front covers. Advertisements alone celebrating his career and legacy have been shown on various sports channels.
Also commemorating his retirement, various shows have been broadcast as a tribute to the Little Master such as ‘Sachin Tendulkar – The Little Master’, which is a look back at Tendulkar’s career from a South African perspective. Other programs include ‘In Conversation with Sachin Tendulkar’ with Ali Bacher, ‘Thank You Sachin’ showing his final innings against West Indies and ‘Legends of Cricket’ with Tendulkar as the man of the hour honoured.
Most telling of all, when cricketers and other sportspersons from South Africa come forward with such quotes acknowledging his contribution to the game and how they enjoyed playing against him, that just underlines his greatness.
Jacques Kallis: ‘We will miss him a lot. Honestly speaking, it will feel quite strange playing against India at home without Sachin,’ ‘I hope Sachin spends many happy years with his family and enjoys watching the great game that we all love.’
AB de Villiers: ‘Sachin Tendulkar has always been a great example for everyone on how to carry yourself on and off the cricket field.’
Graeme Smith: ‘Sorry I missed Sachin Tendulkar’s last game. What can you say about a man that did so much for our great game! All the best in retirement & thank you!’
Hashim Amla: ‘The conclusion of a batting icon! Congrats Mr Tendulkar on an outstanding cricketing career. One of the greats.’
Shaun Pollock: “I think 200 Tests is an amazing achievement & Sachin has been a wonderful cricketer to watch and play against. A true ambassador of the game.”
JP Duminy: ‘Cheers to the #legend was a pleasure sharing a changeroom with u… A true gentleman.’
Alviro Petersen: ‘A legend of the game says goodbye… #SachinTendulkar . An honour to have played against him.’
Graeme Pollock: ‘I have met him quite a few times. He is a fantastic person. Despite all the success he’d had, Sachin has made it a point to remain humble. He is a thorough gentleman. And that’s how he will be remembered the most.’
The most iconic golf player in the world,
Gary Player: ‘Sachin my friend, I have such admiration for you. You can write on your grave, ‘one of best cricketers that ever lived’ and the pleasure you gave to people, you contributed to society. I’ll see you in heaven one day, may be we’ll have a game of golf, and I’ll fling a few off spinners at you. God bless u.’
Haroon Lorgat, CEO of Cricket South Africa: “I know I can speak on behalf of every cricketer, every administrator and every fan in our country and say: Thank you, Sachin, you have been a most gracious icon and you have given many wonderful gifts to the game of cricket and you will remain a lasting inspiration for generations to come.”