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Sachin Tendulkar on the threshold of another monstrous record

Sachin Tendulkar on the threshold of another monstrous record

Sachin Tendulkar (above) is three hundreds short of Sunil Gavaskar’s tally of 81 First-class centuries the highest by an Indian cricketer © Getty Images

As Sachin Tendulkar makes a welcome return to Ranji Trophy, he stands on the threshold of yet another milestone – highest First-class hundreds by an Indian. Arunabha Sengupta analyses the numbers to discover the further facets of greatness in the master’s achievements. 

It may sound positively monotonous after a 23 year journey littered with milestones, but Sachin Tendulkar is on the verge of yet another record. And this, yet again, has to do with centuries.

In international cricket Tendulkar is already far ahead of any other man in the history of the game in terms of centuries. He stands head and shoulders above the rest in Test cricket, and, at least waist above in One-Day Internationals. By a simple corollary, the total number of international hundreds also belongs to him – and this total reached a century of its own after a prolonged wait.

However, as the master batsman walks back into the long neglected arena of Ranji Trophy, he finds himself just three short of the national record for the highest number of First-class centuries. Sunil Gavaskar finished his illustrious career with 81 from 348 matches. Tendulkar’s tally currently reads 78 from 294 outings.

The English monopoly

The record for First-class cricket centuries has traditionally been an English monopoly. With the gamut of county cricket that used to be played, it is hardly surprising that most of the leaders on the all time list are from England.

Jack Hobbs heads the pack with a mindboggling 199 hundreds from as many 834 matches! WG Grace got 124 in 870.  The county season saw numerous teams take on each other more than once every year till not long back.

Hence, among the 25 batsmen who managed a century of First-class centuries, 21 are English. Of the four others, Viv Richards, Zaheer Abbas and Glenn Turner spent a large part of their careers in the county circuit, playing 507, 459 and 455 First-class matches in their respective careers.

Of course, the one remaining batsman in the list got there because of a rather incurable habit of scoring hundreds. The great Don Bradman managed 117 in his career, in just 295 matches.

The great Indian batting leaders

Among the Indians, who play distinctly less First-class cricket than those engaged in the county game, there are seven who have scored more than 50 hundreds.

Unsurprisingly, these seven names would be on most lists of great Indian batsmen.

Indian batsmen with more than 50 First-class centuries

Batsman

M

Inn

Runs

Ave

100s

50s

# Inn/FC
100s

# Inn/FC
50+ scores

SM Gavaskar

348

563

25834

51.46

81

105

6.95

3.03

SR Tendulkar

294

467

24452

58.35

78

111

5.99

2.47

RS Dravid

298

497

23794

55.33

68

117

7.31

2.69

VS Hazare

238

367

18740

58.38

60

73

6.12

2.76

DB Vengsarkar

260

390

17868

52.86

55

87

7.09

2.75

M Azharuddin

229

343

15855

51.98

54

74

6.35

2.68

VVS Laxman

265

433

19520

51.5

54

97

8.02

2.87

As mentioned, Tendulkar is just three away from Gavaskar’s record, and has played 54 matches less than the original Little Master.

A closer scrutiny of the numbers reveals further differentiators between him and the other men on the list.

In spite of spending most of his career away from the vastly easier arena of First-class cricket, more often engaged in battling the more lethal bowlers of Test cricket, Tendulkar is still ahead in a number of areas.

A monstrous 65.38% of his 78 First-class hundreds have come in Test matches.

And even though he has played far less non-Test First-class matches than the other Indian batsmen in the list, Tendulkar still ends up being way more frequent in scoring centuries (one in every 5.99 First-class innings) and fifties (one in every 2.47 First-class innings).

These are further signs of his unwavering quality and consistency at the highest level.

The leading Indian batsmen split into Tests and Non-Test First-class matches

Batsman

Tests

Non
Test
FC

Test 100s

Non-Test 100s

% 100

in Tests

# Inn/

Test 100

#Inn/

Non-Test FC 100

# Inn/

Test 50+

#Inn/

Non-Test FC 50+

SM Gavaskar

123

265

34

47

40.74

6.29

7.43

2.71

2.71

SR Tendulkar

190

104

51

27

65.38

6.16

5.67

2.71

2.10

RS Dravid

163

135

36

32

52.94

7.94

6.59

2.89

2.45

VS Hazare

30

178

7

53

11.67

7.43

5.94

3.25

2.69

DB Vengsarkar

117

143

17

38

30.91

10.88

5.39

3.56

2.28

M Azharuddin

99

130

22

32

40.74

6.68

6.13

3.42

2.31

VVS Laxman

433

54

17

37

31.48

13.24

5.62

3.08

2.67

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

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