In 1992 Yorkshire County Cricket Club were slowly dragging themselves into the 20th Century. Decades of decline from the great team of the 60′s meant that finally they were prepared to break with tradition and come to terms with hiring an overseas cricketer. Well, most of them were. That curmudgeonly old xenophobe Fred Trueman described the decision to appoint a foreigner as “a bleedin’ disgrace!” Notwithstanding that, the club went on to recruit the Aussie fast bowler, Craig McDermott, who unfortunately pulled out injured the week before he was due to arrive in Leeds.
If Trueman and his ilk were offended by an Australian, you don’t need much of an imagination to guess what he might have thought about the young Indian lad who was recruited to replace him. He was a youngster who at the age of 18 had already scored three Test Match centuries, and although he didn’t set the world on fire for Yorkshire (finishing near the bottom of the County Championship again) the young Sachin Tendukar was a joy to behold with a bat in his hand.
Not that the publicity gurus of Yorkshire CCC thought that was his most important asset as they sent him out to meet the media holding a bat and a pint of Tetley’s Yorkshire Bitter. The poor lad looked totally bemused and must have wondered what on earth had hit him.
I only saw Sachin bat once that year, at the Cheltenham Gollege Ground against Gloucestershire, and he scored 40-odd runs before being caught behind (by Jack Russell, I think) in a delightful cameo innings. Although Yorkshire’s opening bat, and current coach Martyn Moxon made nearly 200 runs on that day, Sachin’s class was evident for everyone to see.
Anyway, the little master is making what may be his final Test appearance at Lords this afternoon, and is currently poised on 99 Test Match centuries. Whilst I want England to win, I could honestly be just as pleased to accept the draw if this supreme cricketer and wonderful man could bat the day out and get his name on the honours board at Lords. So, whilst cricket has had some murky publicity over the last year or so, best of luck wee man, you’re a credit to the sport and your country, and one of the best batsmen the world has ever clapped eyes on.