It is human to compare. Make listicles. Your top-five charts. More often than not, fandom plays a major factor in this. Thus, the world of sports, music, cinema etc... will always have unresolved debates about who is the greatest. Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal? Michael Schumacher or Mika Hakkinen? Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? And the latest in cricket -- Virat Kohli or Sachin Tendulkar?There are different ways of judging greatness.
Statistics Flourish & the “wow” factor Grittiness/match winning performances Competition faced Impact on the sport Statistics
Stats show that Virat Kohli is easily the greatest one-day international (ODI) batsman ever. And this has perturbed the Sachin Tendulkar camp. In all other Sachin versus Brian Lara versus Ricky Ponting etc... debates the
Bhagwaan camp could fall back on stats.
Now, they can’t. Kohli hit the 10,000 run mark recently and did it in just 205 innings. That a staggering 54 innings lesser than the Little Master. Moreover, after 205 innings, Sachin averaged 42 whereas Kohli almost touches 60. Also, Kohli has already hit 37 centuries while Sachin was on 21. There is one stat, however, which marginally pips Sachin ahead and that is percentage of team runs. 17 versus 16… slightly unbelievable, right?
Flourish And The Wow Factor
This is subjective. Some find Lara more attractive than Sachin and some argue the other way. Kohli does possess a couple of “wow” shots in his arsenal. The wristy, almost slap like shot he uses to hit the midwicket boundary with ease being one of them. Sachin on the other hand, was a delight to watch. He had the gift to take your breath away time and again. That straight drive, that punch through the covers and that wristy flick were just sublime.
Grittiness/Match Winning Performances
Again subjective. It is well established that Kohli thrives under pressure. His chasing abilities are already legendary. Sachin is slightly misunderstood in this regard. Out of his 49 ODI centuries, 33 were in winning causes. That’s 70 percent.
This is the ODI ranking of bowlers when Sachin was at his peak and the number one batsman in 1999.
1. Shaun Pollock, 2. Glenn McGrath, 3. Shane Warne, 4. Curtly Ambrose, 5. Allan Donald.The top-10 included Saqlain and Muralitharan too. Today, Jasprit Bumrah, Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Trent Boult and Josh Hazelwood are at the top.
It is not Kohli’s fault that the bowling standard has dipped slightly. The sports has changed. Runs mean commercial gains. Consider this for a moment. Why aren’t we talking about Viv Richards as the greatest? No safety, bad equipment, green-top wickets, deadly adversaries, that guy dominated in an era when the general mindset was survival.
Impact On The Sport
Some greats change the game for the next generation. Jonty Rhodes is the first example. The art of fielding changed when he flew from Point to almost Gully to dismiss a bewildered Brian Lara.
Sachin has had that impact on ODI batting, Warne revived spin bowling, Waqar Younus and Wasim Akram practically taught the world the art of reverse swing and AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle have done that for T20 batting. Kohli is yet to find a footing here but I suspect the guy will be remembered as the professional of professionals.
Former England captain Mike Atherton wrote about Kohli’s drive for excellence. Apparently, Kolhi compares his body fat percentage with Novak Djokovic, the 14-time grand slam winner who has only 7.5 percent body fat. His peers can only follow his footsteps.So, stop obsessing about who is the greatest. Enjoy and celebrate what you are seeing as this will end sooner than you know. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar does not grace the 22-yards anymore.