Sachin Tendulkar's final Test: 'the little Master' has no chink in his armour
Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Dominic Cork and Bob Willis assess Sachin Tendulkar's career.
Last Updated: 13/11/13 2:33pm
Sachin Tendulkar plays his 200th and final Test for India against West Indies this week - a match you can watch on Sky Sports 1 from 3.45am on Thursday.
Since making his debut in 1989, Tendulkar has scored 15,847 runs and helped himself to 51 centuries. So what's it like being on the receiving end of his blade?
Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Dominic Cork and Bob Willis reminisce...
The captain's view... Mike Atherton
"I don't think anyone has ever found a chink in Sachin's armour; he's churned out the runs against all-comers and it was the same in 1996 when he scored over 400 runs in five innings. It should have been less, though, because I dropped him on nought in the third Test at Trent Bridge - a very easy catch in the gully - and he went on to score a big hundred to add to the century he scored in the first Test at Edgbaston!
"Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly made their debuts in that series but Tendulkar already had around 40 Tests under his belt and was approaching the prime of his career. I remember trying to set straight fields to make him work around the ball but he played brilliantly in the second innings at Edgbaston, where he was very, very dominant against spin in what turned out to be Min Patel's one and only Test. I tinkered around with the field and probed around with different lines and trajectories from different bowlers but he always seemed to have an answer. That was a key element of his success.
"Tendulkar never looked anxious at the start of an innings - he always looked very composed at the crease. I suppose he must have had a few nerves like everyone else but they were never readily apparent. When you captained against Brian Lara, you knew that he could make you look silly and take the game away from you by manoeuvring the ball wherever your fielders weren't, so you were more wary of him than Tendulkar, who in essence played the same way each time. You never felt that he was going to absolutely destroy you but equally you never felt that you were going to get him out at any time. There was a solidity to him that many other players didn't have.
"I'm not surprised that he didn't captain India on more occasions - he had enough pressure on his shoulders as a batsman. When you watch him in the field he tends to be 'a man apart'; most great players want to get in the thick of the action at slip or somewhere and he's never really been like that. It's almost as if he's in his own little bubble waiting for his turn to bat."
The bowler's view... Dominic Cork
"In some ways you wanted Sachin to bat all day because he was a genius but then you had to remember you were bowling for England! It was nice to see him time a couple of deliveries and put you under a little bit of pressure, but it was always better to see him tuck his bat under his arm and take his gloves off as he was walking back to the pavilion!
"The word legend is used too often in sport but it applies to Sachin without doubt and I felt very lucky to play against him. He has been a master of his trade for a long time because he's been able to adapt his game to score runs in all situations. He was one of the hardest batsmen to bowl against in world cricket because he was so technically correct; he picks up on length very easily, he times the ball well and uses a very heavy bat so he doesn't look to hit it hard, he simply uses the pace or his wrists to split the field.
"I was lucky enough to get Sachin and Brian Lara out a few times - bowling Sachin at Edgbaston in 1996 and again at Trent Bridge in 2004 - and those memories will always stay with me because of the stature of the man. They were proper deliveries, beating him with a bit of seam and swing, but English conditions were in my favour! I certainly wouldn't say I got the better of him - far from it! To do that against a player you need to dismiss them consistently, home and away, and I didn't get the chance to bowl against Sachin in India.
"Sachin is going to be sadly missed in the world of cricket. I'm going to be in the Sky Sports studio for his last game and I'm sure the local people in Mumbai will come out and cheer him on. It will be an emotional time. I hope Sachin stays around cricket and passes on some of his knowledge to the players who are coming through."
The batsman's view... Nasser Hussain
"There were some cricketers I'd look at and think 'he's got the same dodgy technique as me' but not Sachin. He was a batsman I admired rather than tried to compare myself too. His technique and his stillness at the crease make him the run-machine he is. If you want to compile a textbook on how to bat and play in the 'v', then look no further than Sachin for a subject. He doesn't flick the ball through cover point too much (unless he wants to), preferring instead to play down the ground using the full face of the bat and with a nice, high elbow, like a product of the MCC Coaching Manual. Equally, he can hit the ball at any angle he wants.
"Sachin is also excellent at pre-judging a delivery and using his feet but perhaps his greatest asset is his ability to play the ball really late. He used to work for hours in the nets on that. I remember a drill he did at Lord's, where the ball was thrown at him and he'd defend it, making sure the ball didn't roll into the netting. It showed that he could play with late, soft hands and let the ball come to him. That's why his record away from India is very good. Some Indian players like to play out in front of their bodies and hit through the line, which can make them vulnerable in English conditions, but Sachin plays the ball late and right underneath him.
"The only time I thought he looked slightly vulnerable was when he first came to the crease. Wherever and whenever he bats there is a huge weight of expectancy on him and he usually walks off to square leg or fusses a bit about the sightscreen just to give himself that little bit longer to focus on the first delivery and to bed into his innings. I didn't see him ruffled many times during his career but I do remember Andrew Flintoff giving him a working over from around the wicket in Bangalore, although even then Sachin went on to get runs! He has this intuition about what delivery bowlers are going to bowl; the only seamer he struggled to pre-guess towards the end of his career was Jimmy Anderson because of Jimmy's subtle changes of action from inswing to outswing. But he isn't alone in that!"
The commentator's view... Bob Willis
"I always tried to be very careful using superlatives when watching Sachin bat because there was a real danger I might run out of them! There was little point using all your ammo too early - it was important to keep your powder dry and save something up because his innings generally got better and better, and often ended up being big hundreds! As tempting as it was, it wasn't always a good idea to say 'these are the best shots I've ever seen' in the first 25 runs of his innings as invariably his stroke-play would get more and more audacious and there would be a load more to come!
"Sachin, like Brian Lara, is what I'd call a super batsman. Since he came onto the scene he's shown an amazing ability to miss fielders. Time and again I've seen captains adjust their field to try and stop a particular shot and Tendulkar simply changed the angle of that shot the next time he played it and continued to pick up runs. For me his most memorable shots are the ones down the ground - the on-drive off the seam bowlers, which is one of the most difficult shots in cricket to perfect - and also hitting the ball over the top off the slow bowlers straight down the ground, with really assured footwork. In the one-day game he showed that he can bat with wonderful improvisation - it's now common place but he was one of the fore-runners of it, 15 or so years ago.
"I'll never forget the innings he played in Cape Town against South Africa in 1997, when Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock were at the absolute height of their powers. On that day he simply took the attack apart - it was a staggering effort and one that showcased his genius. Similarly, there were many immense innings against toiling England sides but the one that stands out for me is the 193 he made in the third Test of 2002, when the likes of Caddick, Hoggard and Tudor toiled away in vain as India racked up over 600 before declaring."
Watch Sachin Tendulkar's 200th and last Test for India - on Sky Sports 1 this Thursday from 3.45am.