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'There are only two types of batsman; One, Tendulkar. Two, all the others' CRICKET: LITTLE MASTER RETIRES.

Byline: MIKE WALTERS

ALL that remained, for England to mop up the series, was to knock over the 17-year-old kid whose borrowed pads swamped him like a fisherman's waders.

Chasing 408 to win at Old Trafford, India were struggling at 183-6 and victory seemed a formality for Graham Gooch & Co.

But Sachin Tendulkar, the boy king who not only batted in his idol Sunil Gavaskar's pads but played like him, had other ideas.

Bristling defiance, even though he had barely started shaving, Tendulkar unfurled his maiden Test century, thwarting England's old sweats to salvage an unlikely draw. Child's play.

There were another 99 international hundreds where that unbeaten 119 came from, and when Tendulkar takes his final curtain next month, as he wins a record 200th Test cap against the West Indies, a nation will be plunged into mourning.

Neither deaths in the family, nor monarchs lying in state nor psychological meltdown in Mumbai's gridlocked traffic come close to the outpouring of grief in India which greeted his announcement of his imminent retirement.

Crowds gathered for an all-night vigil outside his home and the tributes for a sporting deity carried the solemn air of obituary instead of a salute to a 40-year-old cricketer preparing to pad up for the last time. In cricket, only Sir Don Bradman's average of 99.94 or Brian Lara breaking the world record twice, come close to Tendulkar's century of international hundreds and double century of Test caps.

And in other sports, perhaps Pele's 1,281 career goals, Sir Steve Redgrave's five Olympic gold medals in consecutive Games or Roger Federer's 17 Grand Slam titles compare with the Little Master for greatness.

Never has a cricketer been as venerated, if not actually worshipped, by his own people.

England coach Andy Flower spoke for entire continents when he said: "There are two kinds of batsman in the world. One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others."

More remarkable than his voracious appetite for breaking records has been Tendulkar's ability to remain polite and humble.

In his retirement announcement, he said: "It's hard to imagine a life without playing cricket because that's all I've done since I was 11.

"I have been living the dream of playing cricket for India every day for the past 24 years."

m.walters@trinitymirror.com

THE LITTLE MASTER: WHY HE STANDS TALL

AGE: 40

BORN: Mumbai

TEST DEBUT: v Pakistan, Karachi, 1989, aged 16 years 223 days

TEST RECORD: 198 caps, 15,837 runs at 53.86, 51 centuries

FIRST TEST 100: v England, Old Trafford, 1990, aged 17 years 112 days

TOP TEST RUN SCORERS: Sachin Tendulkar (India) 15,837 (198 matches) Ricky Ponting (Australia) 13,378 (168) Rahul Dravid (India) 13,288 (164) Jacques Kallis (South Africa) 13,128 (162) Brian Lara (West Indies) 11,953 (131) Allan Border (Australia) 11,174 (156)

MOST TEST HUNDREDS: Sachin Tendulkar (1989-2013) 51 Jacques Kallis (1995-) 44 Ricky Ponting (1995-2012) 41 Rahul Dravid (1996-2012) 36 Sunil Gavaskar (1971-1987) 34 Brian Lara (1990-2006) 34

MOST TEST CAPS:

Sachin Tendulkar 198

Ricky Ponting 168

Steve Waugh 168

Rahul Dravid 164

Jacques Kallis 162

Allan Border 156

More remarkable than his voracious appetite for records is Tendulkar's ability to remain humble
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Title Annotation:Sport; Opinion, Columns
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 11, 2013
Words:535
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