A Tendulkar hoarding on the boundary wall of AFPA stadium in BangaloreYour Tendulkar, the real thing, is a subtly different creature from our Tendulkar. Your Tendulkar is worshipped and glorified. He is micro-examined and analysed. But he is also a technician, the straight man to the glorious freedom of VVS,A Tendulkar hoarding on the boundary wall of AFPA stadium in BangaloreYour Tendulkar, the real thing, is a subtly different creature from our Tendulkar. Your Tendulkar is worshipped and glorified. He is micro-examined and analysed. But he is also a technician, the straight man to the glorious freedom of VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag. He is a commodity and he is a salesman. There is his face, on billboard, magazine, television, selling watches, mobile phones, biscuits, soft drinks and motorbikes.But over here he is something more remote, perhaps a little more romantic. His face, still remarkably boyish with its cropped hair and dark eyes, appears on the back pages of the newspapers, and on the front of cricket magazines. And that is pretty much it. We know him, love him, for his fortitude, his 100s, his average, his niceness, his seeming lack of vanity and above all for his beautiful batting.For years the pub conversation would be over who was the greater, Tendulkar or Brian Lara. Now Lara has disappeared but Tendulkar remains, soaring above the rest. We English have had no one like him, at least since Jack Hobbs. Of the nine English players who average over 50, only two of them started their careers after the Second World War: Ken Barrington and Jonathan Trott. And though they both have many fine qualities, they don’t lift the soul in quite the same way.It is the minutiae that fascinate. That Tendulkar married his teenage sweetheart, drives the streets of Mumbai late at night and visits the temple in the small hours, gives him a slightly sad glamour, probably completely out of kilter with reality. In fact Tendulkar’s career has spanned the transformation of the Western view of India.advertisement”Tendulkar is two months and one day younger than me and threeand-a-half inches taller. Sadly, that’s where any similarity ends.”Aldred is a cricket writer and lives in Manchester, England Tendulkar dominates the street from a billboard in MumbaiIn 1989, India was still largely looked upon as a mystical, English-loving third-world former colony with lyrical commentaries from Salman Rushdie, nowit is up there with China, a soon to be gasguzzling giant, an Internet behemoth, a place that David Cameron has to placate during his first few months of power, a land that shouts its own successes and devises its own soaraway cricket competition in the IPL.Tendulkar is two months and one day younger than me and three-and-a-half inches taller(if he is five foot five). Sadly, that is where any similarity ends. In November 1989, when he was making his Test debut, in Karachi, aged 16, I was struggling to summon up the courage to put up my hand in A level history. But I like to think I’ve kept a friendly eye on his career.Though he made his debut Test century in Gooch’s parched summer of 1990, wearing a pair of Sunil Gavaskar’s pads and denying England a win at Old Trafford, and flamed amazement against Australia at Sydney and Perth in the winter of 1991-92, it wasn’t until he came to Yorkshire the following summer, that he really hit the public consciousness.With Lara after a charity one dayer at Melbourne in January 2005The new recruit was photographed smiling gamely on one of his first days, wearing a checked flat cap and holding a pint of foaming bitter. He was Yorkshire’s first overseas player. He was Yorkshire’s first non-white player. He was also something of a superstar and the local press couldn’t believe their luck.There was a constant and rolling supply of rumours, including one that he was going to be sponsored by Tariq’s-the late-night student curry house just a hop skip and a jump from Headingley. That never materialised, but the team were said to have grown fat on free curries from various establishments all season. One local restaurant even changed its named to Sachin’s from April to September.For years the pub conversation would be over who was the greater, Tendulkar or Lara. Now Lara has disappeared but Tendulkar remains, soaring above the rest. We English have had no one like him, at least since Jack Hobbs. Acknowledging the applause of his fansAlthough, he didn’t dazzle, Tendulkar was looked on with real affection in Yorkshire by the staff, the fans and his teammates. At home, we followed his progress in the paper (back in the days when it still carried scorecards). He was said to love the freedom of being in England, to enjoy driving his club car through the streets and hills surrounding Leeds (though he asked to have the name taken off so he didn’t get hassled by too many girls.) In 2002 when he came back for the opening of the new East stand, he made a sweet speech. “I was only 19 when I came here and I didn’t know what to expect, but I will alalways remember this as one of the greatest four-and-a-half months I’ve spent in my life.”By the 1996 World Cup, Tendulkar was in a different league. He was the leading run scorer, a constant and brilliant accumulator. Then that English summer, when arctic winds chilled the bones, Tendulkar batted beautifully. Though that tour is mostly remembered for Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid’s double act at Lord’s, Tendulkar made two Test 100s, at Edgbaston and at Trent Bridge. His 100 on the third afternoon at Birmingham as all collapsed around him was acknowledged by Wisden to be one of “rare brilliance”.Celebrating his birthday with family and friendsBut wasn’t until the World Cup summer of 1999 that I was able to see Tendulkar bat in the flesh. At Bristol, the day after returning from his father’s funeral, he annihilated Kenya. His 50 came from 54 balls, 100 from 84 balls and the last ball of the innings was flicked over mid-wicket for six. The noise, from the Anglo-Indian fans, was like nothing I had ever heard. His timing, his wristiness, his grace-oh what joy!Then in 2001, I came to India. There it all was, as people had told me, the sky, the shimmering lights of Mumbai against the sea, the trains, the saris, the wealth, the poverty, the chai-sellers, the firecrackers. And there was Tendulkar, everywhere. Armed guards sat on the hotel floor where he slept, bodyguards kept the public away. He stood in the nets at the lovelystadium of Chandigarh, in the early morning cool, tiny but utterly self-possessed, seemingly unseeing of the crowds crammed against the wires. Out in the middle, he was breathtaking, conducting ball to boundary with a whip and a bang. He made 88 at Mohali, and on the third day at dusty Ahmedabad, toyed with Nasser Hussain’s leg theory as balls disappeared from outside the off stump, through the leg side to the boundary. He made 103 glorious, Sa-chin, Sa-chin, railing-banging runs, and then he was out. And the ground, and the scooter park behind it, emptied, as if somebody had pulled out the plug. At Bangalore, he was tamed by the tactics of Flintoff and Giles, but still made 90. It had been beautiful.Five-and-a-half years later, in the summer of 2007, I dragged my young children to Old Trafford to see the Indians practising, because I thought it might be their only chance to see him in the flesh before he retired. We were too late to glimpse him in the nets but suddenly, just as the shadows became long, he emerged. We saw his light-footed and sunglass wearing, walk from the glass doors of the Old Trafford entrance hall, to the team coach. Could you perceive greatness in those 15 steps? I thought you could.advertisementadvertisementTendulkar was Yorkshire’s first overseas player. He was Yorkshire’s first non-white player. He was also something of a superstar and the local press couldn’t believe their luck.