Honouring Sachin Tendulkar

Saturday, 11 January 2014 10:43 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A highlight of the ceremonies held to mark the 200th Test appearance of Sachin Tendulkar two months ago – 14 November 2013 to be exact – at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai was the release of two special stamps by the Department of Posts in India. The day also marked the legend’s last Test match. The stamps were a perfect souvenir for philatelists and Tendulkar fans. India Post printed 301,000 stamps of each of the two stamps. Each was of Rs 20 denomination. Leaving aside stamps honouring cricketers, it was the second time India Post honoured a living personality thus making an exception for the second time. A similar exception was made for Mother Teresa on 27 August 1980. While there were occasions when stamps were issued by cricketing nations to mark significant victories, not many occasions are recorded of living cricketers being honoured with stamps. Sri Lanka commemorated the historic occasion when Muttiah Muralidaran broke Australia’s Shane Warne’s record of 708 wickets in 2007 in Test matches and became the world’s highest Test wicket taker. The Rs. 5 stamp had an added speciality. For the first time the Philatelic Bureau designed a circular stamp denoting the cricket ball with two pictures of Murali – one a portrait shot in cap and the other showing Murali in action. Two stamps were released to record Sri Lanka’s World Cup victory in 1996. One of the earliest stamps to honour a living cricketer was when Barbados issued a $5 stamp featuring Sir Frank Worrel several decades ago. Getting back to Tendulkar, following his retirement, the Government of India conferred the Bharat Ratna award, the highest civilian award in the country. Looking back on his career, it was in 1994, two decades ago, that the world’s greatest batsman Sir Donald Bradman remarked that Tendulkar was his like image as a batsman , the player who reminded him most of his own batting. Tendulkar was in Sharjah when a television crew asked him what he thought of Bradman’s comment. “I remember clearly when I first heard it. I didn’t know how to react. You never expect such a compliment, certainly not from the great man himself…If someone else, anyone else, had suggested such a thing it would never have meant as much. But for Sir Donald to say it himself was just such a tremendous honour, a tribute that I will cherish forever,” he wrote to a Don Bradman commemorative volume later. Forty-year-old Tendulkar had, over 24 years, played more matches, and scored more runs and centuries than anyone else in either Test or one-day cricket, and is the only batsman to compile 100 international hundreds. His 15,847 Test runs dwarf the 13,378 scored by second-placed and now retired former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, and are 2,707 more than Jacques Kallis, the highest placed active player. He has been even more dominant in one-day cricket, his tally of 18,426 runs being 4,722 more than number two Ponting. Of active batsmen, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara leads with 11,948. Tendulkar has 49 one-day hundreds and 51 Test hundreds to his credit.