Sachin Tendulkar’s announcement that he has run his course in one-day international terms is one step towards the curtain coming down on the career of the greatest player of modern times.
I hesitate in being so forthright on an Australian forum, especially in the wake of Ricky Ponting calling time on his international days, but Tendulkar has no equals among his peers.
The light may be dimming and in the recent series – in England he looked a shadow of the genius he is – but it seems he is in recognition of his own cricketing mortality.
There can’t be many more miles left in his tank and it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if the upcoming clash with Australia is to be his swansong at Test level.
And that would be symbolic to some degree because it is his record against Australia that makes him stand above his rivals.
The pre-eminent team for so long only met consistently high opposition from Tendulkar and Brain Lara and an undeniable measure of ability is how it stand up to the best going around.
Lara’s efforts hinted at an untamed wizardry, the sense that if the wind was in the right direction then he was close to unstoppable.
But there has always been an element of certainty about Tendulkar, the apparent inevitability that, once set, he would make whoever was bowling pay. Not through force of personality or ego but via a game that has always been as rounded as anyone who has played the game.
Those who have been the closest to matching Tendulkar have had slightly black marks on their resumes. Lara was believed to be susceptible to express pace, Kallis often doesn’t dictate proceedings as much as he could and Ponting’s record in India was relatively average for someone of his talent.
But the Indians status has been built around the ability to produce regardless of opposition, conditions and situation time and again for over two decades.
A lot has been made of the pressure that Tendulkar has operated under; the fact he can’t go out of his house, that many go to the cricket to watch him and him alone and that his country’s vast population expect him to deliver.
Nobody else in the world game has this on their shoulders and this adds a weight to what he has accomplished.
But purely from a batsmanship point of view he hasn’t been challenged for the majority of the time he has been around.
The opinion of those you play against is often the best indicator of how you are perceived and very few would say anything different to what has been offered above.
And that tells you all you need to know.