On the cusp of India's Independence Day, Sachin Tendulkar became the most-capped Test cricketer ever, having now played in a record-breaking 169 Test matches. He was congratulated on the floor of the lower house, the Lok Sabha, by the Speaker herself.
It is hard to think of another sportsman as respected and almost revered as Sachin Tendulkar — Roger Federer, perhaps — not only by team mates and supporters of India's XI, but by opponents and cricket tragics all over the world. Apparently, on the wall of the restaurant that Tendulkar owns in Mumbai hangs a cricket jersey, signed by Andrew Symonds; it says: 'To Sachin, the player we all want to be'.
A little vignette: this Tuesday, on Fox Sports Australia's programme The Back Page, journalist Robert Craddock wore the very cap Sachin Tendulkar had worn in his very fist Test match for India. Craddock had bought in, if I remember correctly, 1998 for some US$300. When he heard about the purchase, for that outrageous amount of money, Tendulkar had approached Craddock and asked he if was really all right with paying that for his cap — and Craddock had to assure him that, yes, yes he was. It is that kind of concern and modesty that Tendulkar, almost alone among world-famous sportsmen, seems to have managed to somehow retain.
169. Luckily for us, he seems happy to continue to delight us.
(Sadly, I have not been able to get a screen shot of Craddock wearing his Sachin cap. The podcast of the programme can be downloaded here; it's the one from 3 Aug.)