Greatness: The Thin Line of Differentiation

Blog by: Rohinee

 Australia v India - Tri-Series Game 10

Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Donald Bradman, two legends of the cricketing world; the former’s aptitude and prolificacy acknowledged by the latter himself. Separated by generations, these two players have undeniably thrust the sport into an incomparable prominence that will never fade away.

But even between these two legends, there is still a question persisting about who is the greatest player. The answer is not definite, but is rather subjective as divided opinions make their presence felt across cricketing fandom.

In terms of longevity and performance consistency over the course of the years of their long playing career, both Tendulkar and Sir Bradman are almost on equal footing. But when it comes to analysing the different developments that the sport has seen between the intervening years separating Sir Bradman and Sachin, there are quite a few distinguishing points that present themselves. And most of them veer towards the latter, adjudicating him to be slightly better off on the scale of cricketing greatness.

The following being the core facets of differentiation:

–          Different Formats: When Sachin Tendulkar debuted in 1989, Sir Bradman had been retired for over 40-years. These four decades had thus borne testimony to quite a few interesting changes in the cricketing structure. And though Sir Bradman with his impressive statistics and an invincible test average of 99.94 still ruled the statistical charts, by the time Sachin stepped on to the field it wasn’t only about test cricket, but also about the other formats like ODIs and more contemporarily T20 where maintaining performance consistency mattered. These subtle yet unmistakable aspects thus give Sachin Tendulkar an edge over the legendary Aussie.

–          Opponents’ Variation: During the two decades of Sir Bradman’s professional cricketing life, cricketing opponents were majorly limited. Australia mainly had a prolific cricketing rivalry – that still continues – with England and then to a certain extent with West Indies, India and South Africa. In comparison, Tendulkar has faced myriad opponents, from weaklings to the invincible, which made him to be a more global ambassador of the sport which once again reflects back to the developments encouraged by the international cricketing authorities for the sport. Thus, even though Sir Bradman’s feats between the 22-yards are difficult to emulate, Sachin’s achievements are comparatively more difficult on account of his consistency whilst playing against opponents from all across the world.

–          More Competitive Line-up: During the heydays of Sir Bradman, international cricketing tournaments consisted primarily of the Ashes. Though the presence of the single largest cricketing tournament doesn’t detract anything from the Aussie’s achievements, Sachin’s performances and accomplishments can be seen under a new light considering the number of tournaments that the Indian played over the course of his 24-year career.

–          All-round Performances: Where both, Sachin and Sir Bradman were predominantly batsmen ruling the roost over the bowlers; the former did have a better fulfilling stint as an all-rounder than the former. Statistics reveal that in the handful of overs that the Australian bowled (160 balls against England, West Indies, India and South Africa), he picked merely two wickets with best bowling figures of 1/8 against West Indies. In comparison, Sachin Tendulkar has bowled over 4,200 balls in tests and over 8,000 balls in ODIs picking over 40 wickets in the former and over 150 in the latter, against numerous opponents. Thus yet again bringing out the finer demarcating points between the two prodigies.

–           Attitudinal Differences: Though these have nothing to do with cricket as such, the differences in the two players’ attitudes cannot be avoided. Though both players have been called to be reserved and shy, Sachin’s inherently shy nature didn’t separate him from his peers as Sir Bradman’s introverted nature did. On the contrary, Sachin’s availability to the team was always much broadcasted casting him as the perfect mentor whereas Sir Bradman was often mistaken for being arrogant and struck-up. And this is perhaps the biggest delineating factor between Sachin and Sir Bradman that puts the Indian on a marginally upward footing than the Australian.

Whilst these differences do emerge between the two players, it cannot be denied that the eras in which the two played for their country were vastly different as well. Alongside his cricketing amassing, Sir Bradman was also a part of the Australian military during the Second World War that cast a shadow over the leading cricketing proceedings at that time. In comparison, Tendulkar’s cricketing career was largely sedate, barring for a few unforgettable blips on the radar of international peace.

Similarly, even in terms of injuries and illnesses, the Australian had to battle quite a few including depression and other war related injury that only exemplified his achievements on the cricketing circuit, accomplished after these problems. Though, it would be wrong to say that Tendulkar has had a completely injury-free career, his health problems didn’t majorly affect his performances. There again, while surgery and post-surgery rehab did force him to take time away from cricket, Sachin never seemed to be out of the cricketing picture like the Australian.

And it is because of these reasons that, despite all differentiations, there can never be a clear and concise reason for Sachin to be better than Sir Bradman, or vice versa. Since rooters of either party will never sway to the other, suffice to say, that in the circumstance, it is best to agree to disagree whilst acknowledging that both merit the pedestal of greatness in their own right.

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