MELBOURNE: Sachin Tendulkar scoring a historic 50th Test ton has re-ignited the debate on who is the greatest batsman of all time -- he or Don Bradman, and a poll commissioned by an Australian newspaper saw the Indian icon in front by a small margin though voting is yet to be over.
In an online poll in Sydney Morning Herald asking to vote for 'The greatest batsman ever: Bradman or Tendulkar?', 1642 cricket fans have voted so far and Tendulkar has got 63 per cent as against 37 per cent of the Australian legend.
The poll closes in 19 hours, counting from 0hrs IST. A write up in the newspaper said many people asked if the comparison between the Little Master and the Don was fair considering they played in different eras.
"His (Tendulkar's) legend grows ever larger. And having become the first man to score 50 Test centuries, Tendulkar has reignited debate about who is the greatest batsman ever. Is it India's 37-year-old Little Master, or Australia's late, great Sir Donald Bradman? Or is it even fair or realistic to compare these two men from very different eras?," cricket writer Daniel Lewis asked.
"Tendulkar first represented India at 16, and is batting as majestically as ever. His first century came at Old Trafford in 1990 in his ninth Test. His 50th ton - 11 clear of his nearest rival, Ricky Ponting - came in his 175th Test, against South Africa in the aptly named Centurion. It was raised with a single and a salute to the heavens in memory of his late father," he wrote.
The write-up said the comparison between the two legends goes beyond numbers.
"Bradman scored 29 tons from 80 innings at unparalleled conversion rate of a century every 2.76 innings. Second best is Tendulkar's 50 centuries from 286 innings, or one every 5.72 innings. Then there are the averages. Bradman's Test mark of 99.94 stands like a beacon among cricketing statistics, although Tendulkar's 56.89 is none too shabby.
"The debate goes beyond numbers. Bradman played on uncovered wickets, Tendulkar on covered ones. Bradman played Tests in only two countries, Tendulkar in 10. Bradman played through a depression and a war, Tendulkar with the expectation of a billion people upon his shoulders. Bradman's bats had a comparatively tiny sweet spot to Tendulkar's railway sweepers. And Bradman never had to play limited-overs cricket, while Tendulkar has represented India in an astounding 442 one-day internationals."
Former South African captain Kepler Wessels, who was at Centurion to watch Tendulkar's 50th century on Sunday, said Tendulkar is the best batsman of the modern era.
"Certainly in the modern era, he's the best batsman of our time. He doesn't have an equal," Wessels said.
Tendulkar's former coach Greg Chappell said the Indian icon did not need any guidance when he was at the helm of affairs of the team but was emphatic on his opinion that Bradman was the best batsman ever.
"It (work with the Tendulkar) was about the mental side of it, about keeping a young mind," Chappell said.
"But Bradman. No doubt (on who is the best)," he added. Former Australian quick Stuart Clark said Tendulkar was the hardest batsman to dismiss.
"When you're bowling to him, it feels like his bat is a foot wide. He rarely plays and misses, and on the odd occasion you do get one past the edge, you know you're bowling well. He is the hardest batsman to dismiss I've come up against. He has incredible timing and control, and dictates the game to you," Clark said.
"You almost get the feeling that he moves the fielders where he wants them, not you. It feels like you've got three fielders out there ... It almost felt like he was playing shots to spite me. You'd move a fielder from midwicket to square leg - and he's hit it through midwicket. You'd move to the fielder from square leg to midwicket - and he's hit it through square leg. He is an unbelievable player.