Kolkata: Who is greatest Test batsman of the 21st century? No prizes for guessing, Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar won a poll conducted by Star Sports on the occasion of the World Test Championship final, but not before he pipped former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara to the post.
“This was a tight one. Both Kumar Sangakkara and Sachin Tendulkar are icons of the game but the vote, the winner of the greatest Test batsman of the 21st century, is my fellow Mumbaikar Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar,” Gavaskar said in a video uploaded by the broadcasters, who organised the poll where cricket commentators and fans voted.
The commentators who voted included VVS Laxman, Irfan Pathan, Aakash Chopra, former Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar among others. In a pre-match chat show on Saturday, Laxman, who famously formed the ‘Fab Four’ of Indian batting alongwith Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, said: ‘‘What distinguished Tendulkar was the kind of pressure of expectations that he had to handle for a period of 24 years.’’
This was a tight one. Both Kumar Sangakkara and Sachin Tendulkar are icons of the game but the vote, the winner of the greatest Test batsman of the 21st century, is my fellow Mumbaikar Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar
Bangar, a former Test allrounder and teammate of Tendulkar, chose to tread a different path when he said: ‘‘I am a great admirer of Sachin myself, but I feel his best phase came between 1996 and 2000. My vote would go to Jacques Kallis, whose phenomenal batting has often gone under the radar.’’
Tendulkar’s 15,921 runs and 51 centuries are the most in Test cricket history. The man nearest to him in the rungetters’ list is former Australia captain Ricky Ponting who is 2,543 runs behind. In terms of centuries, he is six clear of Jacques Kallis who has 45 Test tons.
Another extremely conspicuous absentee in the list is Brian Lara as the greatness debate from late Nineties to the first decade of the new millennium ranged between Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting. The Caribbean master, however, retired in 2007 while Tendulkar ended his Test career in 2013.
Sangakkara, who had scored 12,400 runs and 38 centuries in Tests, is sixth in the list of all-time rungetters and fourth in the list of centurions.
Tendulkar, who made his Test debut at the age of 16, earned the sobriquet of ‘God of cricket’ and was the only Indian in an all-time Test World XI which was announced in 2013 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
In 2002, the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him as the second greatest Test batsman of all time behind Don Bradman and the second greatest ODI batsman behind Viv Richards.