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As Sachin Says Goodbye, Say Grace

Much like W G Grace 150 years ago, Sachin Tendulkar has been instrumental in spreading the popularity of the game of cricket.

As Sachin Tendulkar bids farewell to test cricket, it’s fitting to pay tribute to his singular contribution to the sport – not for the centuries he scored or the record runs he amassed but for widely spreading the following of cricket beyond hardcore enthusiasts of the game.

No other figure in the 20th century has had his kind of impact on popularising the game. Some may name two other contenders – Don Bradman and Vivian Richards. In the case of Richards, more than his undoubted batting brilliance it was an indomitable team’s collective answer that struck a chord, as a cultural expression of struggle, of rising black power, a political story whose early chapters were narrated feelingly by C L R James in his classic Beyond a Boundary, and its culmination in the superb film Fire in Babylon. As for Bradman, all his 52 tests were played in Australia or England, and he played only against four countries. Cricket is now a more global sport, and Sachin has perforce taken it to vastly wider audiences.

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