Growing up a cricket fan everyone learned that Sir Don Bradman’s test average was 99.94 when he retired and that Sir Jack Hobbs scored 197 first class hundreds (some say 199 see footnote). Both of these feats it was believed would never be bettered.
Yet overnight Sachin Tendulkar of India registered the fiftieth Test hundred of his 21-year career, making him far and away the most prolific run scorer in international cricket.
Tendulkar is 37 years old and like Hobbs seems to be seeing the ball better now than previously in his career. This was his seventh Test hundred in 2010, in this his third decade as an international cricketer. Hobbs incidentally scored 85 of his centuries after the age of 37, from 1919 until his retirement; he also missed four years due to the First World War and a year due to illness.
Tendulkar has another similarity to Sir Jack and that is he is only the second ever player to score 11 Test centuries against Australia. Sir Jack Hobbs having achieved the feat more than 70 years previously.
Tendulkar has scored 46 centuries in one-day internationals as well as his 50 in Test matches and will no doubt be aiming for the magical 100 hundreds for India. His nearest rival is Australian Ricky Ponting who has 68 hundreds, 39 of them in Tests, but his form has been on the wane and his position in the side under fire.
In the Boxing Day Test in Durban it would be a brave man not to bet against him matching Mohammad Yousuf’s record of nine hundreds in a year, or pass the Pakistan batsman’s 2006 record aggregate of 1,788 runs. This is 249 more than Tendulkar currently has.
Footnote: Hobbs two disputed hundreds were scored on the 1930–31 visit to Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – by the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram’s team. A team that included his famous opening partner Herbert Sutcliffe. Wisden and Playfair have never recognised these two extra centuries as first-class but other publications have.