Who is the greatest, Gavaskar or Tendulkar?

Kolkata, Nov 14 (Inditop.com) Who is India’s greatest ever batsman — Sunil Manohar Gavaskar or Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar? Indian cricketing circles have been abuzz with this debate for two decades since the time Tendulkar stepped into international cricket in 1989, two years after Gavaskar called it quits.

Both Gavaskar and Tendulkar have been given the sobriquet little master for their short stature. And both Mumbaikars broke practically all the world batting records in their time – be it that of the highest number of Test runs or hundreds.

Both have earned wholesome praise from cricketing experts for their elegant cover drives, though Tendulkar is much ahead in improvisation, ability to go after the bowling for longer durations in his innings and executing a wider range of strokes.

While Gavaskar called it quits with an aggregate of 10,122 runs from 125 Test matches, embellished with 34 hundreds, Tendulkar still goes strong after collecting 12,773 runs inclusive of 42 tons spread over 159 Test matches.

But while picking the better of the two in Tests could be as hard as solving a Chinese puzzle, Tendulkar stands taller in One-Day Internationals.

His awesome record of 17,178 runs from 436 games, adorned with 91 centuries, far outshines Gavaskar’s record of 3,092 runs in 108 matches with only a single hundred to his credit in his penultimate ODI.

Tendulkar averages 44.50; Gavaskar has a modest 35.13, with a painstakingly slow 36 not out after carrying his bat for 60 overs in the inaugural World Cup (1975) still a festering sore among his admirers and an ammunition for his detractors.

In sharp contrast, the captaincy record of Gavaskar dwarfs that of Tendulkar.

Known for his on-field shrewdness, Gavaskar was the first skipper who led India to more wins than defeats, a record bettered only by Sourav Ganguly.

Against Gavaskar’s 9-8 win loss record in 47 Tests, Sachin has won 4 and lost nine after leading India in 25 Tests. In what is considered a rarity, Tendulkar has even made his lack of interest in leading India known to the powers that be in the latter half of his career.

Here is what India’s three spin legends – Bishen Singh Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna – had to say when asked to compare the two batting greats as also the Indian cricket eras of the 1970s and the present.

Venkataraghavan: He (Tendulkar) compares favourably to, if not better than any of our past greats. And I say this keeping in mind the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Vijay Hazare. He is the greatest Indian batsman in the last 40-45 years.

Whether Sachin would have got the same amount of success playing in the 1970s is a matter of conjecture. But I think a player of his class would have adapted himself to any condition.

I saw Sunil as also Gundappa Viswanath succeed against top quality fast bowling. They did exceptionally well against the four fast bowlers of the West Indies. I think Tendulkar would have done equally well.

Prasanna: There is a big difference between the type of cricket played then and now. The batsmen did not have protective gears then. Secondly, the wickets were uncovered. Now the wickets are covered. This has made things easier for batsmen. So, in the 1960s and 1970s, to succeed a batsman had to be superb in technique and talent.

It won’t be right to make such comparisons between two greats of two different eras. Because then matches were few and far between. There used to be lots of gaps between two series. So before every series one had to start afresh. Nowadays there are so many international games that you get a lot of match practice. Once you get into the flow, you can go on.

Bedi: It wouldn’t be justified to compare Sachin with greats like Gavaskar or Vishwanath. They played in different eras. We may have different kind of opinions but one thing I have to say that Tendulkar is a genuine great. Sachin is a player who would have fitted into a team of any era.