Sachin Tendulkar: 7 Overlapping Steps from Today to First Test in 1877
Sachin Tendulkar has been playing international cricket for longer than many cricket fans have been alive, but his 25-year international career is, slowly but surely, nearing its end.
Test cricket was being played, however, more than 100 years before that—the first Test took place between England and Australia in March of 1877 at the MCG.
The game has changed dramatically since then, as television, commercialisation, professionalism and more have all left their mark, but remarkably, the chain of players linking Tendulkar to that first Test match is not as long as you might think.
If you go back to the Little Master’s first Test—against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989—you will see that on the field that day were legends of yesteryear, the likes of Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev and Abdul Qadir, and some of those were playing for their countries the best part of half a century ago.
We can get back, via team-mates of these greats, to the very first Test match in 1877 in just seven steps.
1. Sachin Tendulkar (1989-Today) Played Against Imran Khan (1971-1992)
When: Karachi, Pakistan vs. India, first Test, November 15-20 1989 - scorecard
Who else was playing: Amongst others, Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev and Abdul Qadir.
The match: Tendulkar manages only 15 runs in his debut innings in a drawn match.
2. Imran Khan (1971-1992) Played Against Colin Cowdrey (1954-1975)
When: Edgbaston, England vs. Pakistan, first Test, June 3-8 1971 - scorecard
Who else was playing: Zaheer Abbas and Intikhab Alam, Alan Knott and Ray Illingworth.
The match: Pakistan, bolstered by three centuries, pile on 608 for seven, before bat their way to a draw.
3. Colin Cowdrey (1954-75) Was Captained by Len Hutton (1937-1955)
When: Brisbane, Australia vs. England, November 26-December 1 1954 - scorecard
Who else was playing: Commentary legend Richie Benaud, England quicks Frank Tyson and Brian Statham.
Things that hadn’t happened in history yet: The first Burger King opened the week after the Test finished.
The match: Australia piled on 601 runs in their first innings, and won by an innings and 154 runs.
4. Len Hutton (1937-1955) Played Against Don Bradman (1928-1948)
When: Trent Bridge, England vs. Australia, June 10-14 1938 - scorecard
Who else was playing: A raft of legends including Bill Edrich, Wally Hammond, Denis Compton and Hedley Verity.
Things that hadn’t happened in history yet: World War II, the timeless Test in South Africa, which was abandoned after 12 days as the tourists had to catch a boat back to England.
The match: A Bradman century helps Australia force a draw in a contest which sees plenty of runs scored. There are several routes we could have gone at this juncture, incidentally, but many stars of the game had their careers prolonged or cut short by World War II, and the chance to use the Don in this list was simply too good to pass up.
5. Don Bradman (1928-1948) Played with Charles Kelleway (1910-1928)
When: Brisbane, Australia vs. England, November 30-December 5 1928 - scorecard
Who else was playing: Australia’s bowling was led by the pithily-named Bert Ironmonger. England featured batsmen of the calibre of Herbert Sutcliffe, Jack Hobbs and Wally Hammond.
Things that hadn’t happened in history yet: The Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929, while an eight-month old Bruce Forsyth was busy plotting a dancing show featuring celebrities and professionals on the BBC, now all of six years old.
The match: About as crushing an England win as is conceivable. The tourists manage 521 and 342-8 declared, while Australia are skittled for 122 and 66. The Don is rarely on the end of such a defeat again.
6. Charles Kelleway (1910-1928) Played with Syd Gregory (1889-1912)
When: Trent Bridge, Australia vs. South Africa, August 5-7 1912 - scorecard
Who else was playing: The ‘Grand Old Man of South Africa’, Arthur Nourse, and obscenely talented all-rounder Aubrey Faulkner, who played as far back as Test cricket’s third match.
Things that hadn’t happened in history yet: World War I. The Titanic had been underwater for all of four months.
The match: Drawn. It was part of a triangular tournament with the only three Test-playing nations. England hosted what was not a well-received series, with poor crowds and a weakened Australia team.
7. Syd Gregory (1889-1912) Played Against George Ulyett (1877-1890)
When: Lord’s, England vs. Australia, July 21-23 1890 - scorecard
Who else was playing: England were captained by WG Grace.
Things that hadn’t happened in history yet: The death of Queen Victoria, the successful patenting of radio.
The match: Grace’s unbeaten 75 got the hosts home to victory in a three-day win in a low-scoring match. Ulyett, bowing out of the Test arena, was the last of the 22 men who played in the very first Test to hang up his bat.
Can You Get There Faster?
It's one of cricket's talking points.
How would careers and eras overlap; who would have thrived in one and struggled in another?
Tendulkar will have played with almost all players of any significance from the last three decades of cricket. And he links them all together, just a boy just making his way in the game now will perhaps look back on his career and think, when he puts his bat in the loft a decade or two from now, that he once played with Sachin.
But as fascinating as it is to go through the eras like this—and there are any number of different overlapping careers to do so with—we'll bet you can't get from today to the first Test in fewer than seven steps...