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He is the greatest batsman of the modern era and a hero to millions in his native India. His name is Sachin Tendulkar. He is ‘The Little Master’. BT Sport 1, Sun, Jan 20th 11.30pm
This fascinating documentary recounts the extraordinary career of a cricketing prodigy who carried a nation’s hopes and dreams on his shoulders every time he went out to bat.
When it comes to choosing the greatest batman of all time, there are only two of names worthy of consideration. One is Donald Bradman, the swashbuckling Australian who demolished bowling attacks everywhere in the first half of the last century, the other is Sachin Tendulkar, the Mumbai-born prodigy who made his test match debut at 16 and played at the highest level for more than a generation while breaking almost every record there is.
Diminutive of stature he may be at just five feet five inches, but Tendulkar is a true giant of the game. He holds the record for the most runs scored in both test and one-day cricket and is the first and only person to date to register a century of international centuries.
There have been some truly great batsmen over the past 50 years or so – names like Gary Sobers, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar, Jacques Kallis, Alistair Cook and Mahela Jayawardene immediately spring to mind - but Tendulkar stands head and shoulders above them all. A dizzying combination of flair and flawless technique, they don’t call him ‘the little master’ for nothing. It is a well-earned epithet as some of the records he set will never be broken.
Directed and narrated by son and father team by Gotham and Deepak Chopra, The Little Master is a study in sporting excellence and chronicles Tendulkar’s career from his international debut against Pakistan in November 1989 at the tender age of 16 to his final farewell against the West Indies in home town Mumbai almost 24 years to the day later. In between, he established himself as the number one superstar in the cricketing firmament, the batsman against whom all other batsmen are judged.
Tendulkar played 200 tests for India, hitting a world record 15,921 runs at an average of 53.78. This included another world record 51 centuries and six double-centuries. Incidentally, he also took 46 wickets as a part-time off spinner.
His record is equally impressive in the one-day game where he scored 18, 426 runs in 463 matches at an average of 44.83, including 46 centuries and 96 fifties. A World Cup winner in 2011 when he scored 74 at his home ground to help India beat Sri Lanka, he is the only player in cricket history to have scored more than 30,000 runs in international matches. In 2013 he was named in Wisden’s best of all-time team to celebrate the cricketing bible’s 150th anniversary.
Such is the regard in which Tendulkar is held in his own country that he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, in 2012 and is the only non-aviation background person to be awarded the rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force. Also in 2012, he became just the second living person after Mother Teresa to be featured on a stamp in India. That same year he was also made an honorary Member of the Order of Australia.
The documentary features plenty of action footage which is interspersed with interviews with the great man himself and the likes of current Indian test and one-day captain Virat Kohli, former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and cricket expert Harsha Bhogle.
We also hear from Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta as they discuss everything from Tendulkar’s batting technique to his role as cultural ambassador for his country. They all pay tribute to his mental discipline and strength of character - qualities that enabled him to perform consistently at the highest level for almost a quarter of a century while carrying the added burden of a country’s hopes and expectations upon his shoulders.
The Little Master also sheds some light on what drove Tendulkar throughout his career, what inspired him, his memories of key moments and the strong bond of friendship that still exists with former team-mates. We learn about his commitment to his craft, with hours spent in the nets each day as well as the important mentoring role that he played with Yuvraj Singh upon hearing that his young team-mate had been diagnosed with cancer during the 2011 World Cup tournament.
A worthy tribute to a true sporting great. Well worth a watch!
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