Sachin Tendulkar, described by Steve Waugh as the modern era's Don Bradman, will tomorrow become history's 16th player to have an international career spanning more than 20 years but he is well short of former English all-rounder Wilfred Rhodes' mark.
Rhodes (left) represented England for more than 30 years: from 1 June 1899 to 12 April 1930. Tendulkar, though, is second to Pakistan's Javed Miandad on the list of players with the longest One-Day Internationals careers.
Tendulkar, whose ODI career till date spans 19 years and 325 days, has represented India in a record 436 50-over matches. Miandad's limited overs career lasted 20 years and 272 days. Sanath Jayasuriya is third, having represented Sri Lanka in ODIs for 19 years and 275 days till date.
Former Pakistan players have paid glowing tributes to Tendulkar, describing the champion batsman as a true ambassador of the game. Miandad said he always advised youngsters to follow in the footsteps of Tendulkar.
Abdul Qadir said the champion batsman was far from finished and would continue to break many more records. Inzamam-ul-Haq said Tendulkar was a gentleman who had never allowed fame to get the better of him. “Whenever we played India, we knew Tendulkar was the key wicket for us," he said. Rashid Latif said Tendulkar was a role model in the gentleman's game.
For all the fame he had achieved, though, Tendulkar's wife, Anjali, could not recognise him when they first met in 1990. She says he perhaps fell for her because of her lack of cricket knowledge.
“I first met him at Mumbai airport when he returned from his first tour of England in 1990, after scoring his first Test century. In fact, when I first saw him, I didn't even know who he was," Anjali said.
“I was there to pick up my mother and Sachin was arriving with the Indian team. That's where we saw each other for the first time... we had a courtship of five years and got married in 1995. We got engaged a year before that and that was in New Zealand,” she has said in an interview.
“I think what he liked about me was that I knew nothing about cricket when I first met him. But then, me being me, I read everything about the game. I came to know all the fielding positions but he doesn't like me discussing cricket at home. But at times when he is low or upset, I do talk to him about cricket. Again, it's not the game but things related to it that we discuss,” she said.
Asked whether Tendulkar's fame had come in the way of her relishing life's simple pleasures, like going for a movie, Anjali said: “We went to see Roja. I was studying medicine then and a couple of my friends planned it. Sachin told me it would be difficult but I insisted he come along. To make sure nobody recognised him, we even got him a beard. He wore specs as well and we went in late. We watched the first half of the film, but during the interval, Sachin dropped his specs and people immediately recognised him. It was a bit of a disaster and we were forced to leave halfway." - PTI
(Source: The Statesman, Kolkata)