In 1996 I went to Trent Bridge to watch England attempt to win a series. To win any series during that time was something of a feat but at 1-0 up going into the third and final test it really looked like we had a good chance.
We'd annihilated- yes annihilated, hard to believe eh - the Indians in the first test, bowlng them all out twice out for a little over 200 each innings. However from the debris that was their batting line up one figure stood out like a diamond. Sachin Tendulkar had made 122 from a total of 219 with the second highest score being 18.
He was arguably at the height of his powers at the time. At 23 he'd already been playing iternational test cricket for 7 years and averaged around 50. He's only about a month younger than me, so here was a man who had done it all already, when I'd only just got a proper job.
The Indian's were in bat first and halfway through the morning we had them at 30 odd for 2, which brought Mr. Tendulkar together at the crease with Sourav Ganguly. On a fairly benign pitch they tore the bowling apart. Ganguly made a ton but at the other end stood a tiny elfen genius. I've never seen strokeplay live, as good as Sachin's that day. He's a small man but he timed it so well that the ball was unstoppable off the bat. At the end of the day he remained unbeaten as did Sourav and both looked well set to bat for as long as theywanted. Tendulkar was eventually out for 177, but it is a day I will always remember.
He's suffered in the past couple of years with injury and a simultaneus and probably related drop in form which has prompted some to question how long he would keep playing for, but today after a long lay off he played one of the classic innings.
Opening the batting against West Indies he scored 142 NO, including 5 sixes. A paced innings that accelerated towards the end with 4 of the 5 sixes in the final 5 overs. It's good to see him back. In my opinion he just eclipses Lara as the best batsman of my generation.
Hats off Mr Tendulkar.