The three batsmen who are almost unanimously considered to be the best of their generation at this present point in time are regarded as superior for elements in their performance that cannot be reflected in runs alone.
The fact Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara exist in an echelon above their contemporaries – who possess records similar to theirs – in the eyes of the often-uninformed majority, is exceedingly significant.
It evinces the status these players held over the course of their careers and the psychological impact their presence had on the outcomes of games, as it was flagrant to even the most innocent and intoxicated couch analyst.
Hindsight does afford us with many benefits, such as prolonged time and an absence of circumstance-fuelled narrow mindedness, but in some respects it fails to appreciate the influence certain people have on their concerned fields of existence.
These gentlemen shaped the very era they belonged to, through their respective unique and unprecedented batting styles, honing their own distinctive crafts to a pre-eminent level that enabled them to break records and endure highly successful Test careers.
The one individual who is revered more vehemently than Ganeesha himself on the subcontinent is Sachin Tendulkar.
A worthy recipient of his god status, this stocky, vertically challenged master will finish with a record that may be forever unsurpassable when he eventually calls time on an international career that commenced way back in 1989.
Blessed with quick hands and a classical technique, Tendulkar has been a favourite of commentators for the duration of his career, as the elegance of his strokeplay captures the eye of the game’s purists.
Tendulkar is the most diverse of the three, being able to score freely all around the ground and interchange comfortably between attack and defence, depending on situation.
Critics often marginalise his success for the high percentage of his runs being scored on batsman-friendly conditions in the subcontinent, and this is a legitimate criticism.
Despite the fact he has consistently performed exceptionally abroad, the bulk of his centuries in both forms of the game (disregarding T20 cricket) have been scored in Asia, where the fast bowling threat is almost completely nullified by the barren composition of their playing strips.
However, what is most important in this comparison is the acknowledgement of his fellow soldiers; Tendulkar donned the navy blue cap for nearly his entire career with a formidable army.
Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni played their entire careers to date with Tendulkar.
With Dhoni as the exception, who will likely match the feats of these greats in the coming seasons, the four all played over 100 Tests, compiling over 100 centuries between them.
Even considering the great teams that have presided our game throughout the 20th century, this batting line-up would have to lie on the summit.
Had there not been such a major discrepancy in the bowling and fielding departments, this Indian side would have been a major hurdle for the dominant Australians to overcome on a consistent basis.
Consequently, although his wicket was always a bit of a prized scalp, the opposition still had to account for four or five other world class batsmen.
That is not to say he was devoid of pressure, on the contrary he had arguably the most out of any sportsman in the history of mankind, bearing the weight of over a billion hopeful Indians on his shoulders each time he took centre stage.
It is rather an understanding that his pursuit of runs was ameliorated by the reality that the fielding side had plenty of batting prowess to contend with when encountering India, not simply the Little Master.
It is unequivocal Tendulkar should exist in any expert’s greatest XI and he be a vowel in the cricket alphabet, but he was not the finest of them all.
That title goes to the ace that hails from a land where palm trees are as common as street signs and rum is consumed as invariably as water…