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How John Wright predicted Sachin Tendulkar's feat of 100 hundreds seven years before it was achieved

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
826   //    26 Nov 2017, 18:39 IST

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John Wright coached Sachin Tendulkar from 2000 to 2005

The phase between 2000 and 2005 will go down as one of the most significant in Indian cricket.

After a decade from 1990 to 1999, which saw Indian cricket get the tag, "tigers at home, lambs abroad," the team, under the combination of Sourav Ganguly as captain and John Wright as coach, transformed into a side which the Indian cricketing fraternity began to develop admiration for - a side that fought till the bitter end and broke new grounds, thereby reigniting faith among the Indian public.

It was a phase when the Indian batting quintet of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag were performing as a force, delivering their fair share of match-winning innings both at home and away.

However, all good things must come to an end and in April 2005, Wright bid goodbye to Indian cricket, after having served diligently for half-a-decade.

A couple of months later, in an interview with ESPNCricinfo, he reflected upon his time spent in India, revealing aspects of the game where the side had improved and those which still needed work.

The most interesting comment in the interview came at the fag end, when he said that Tendulkar had it in him to score 100 international hundreds.

The statement came at a time when Tendulkar was finding his way back to form after having sustained and recovered from an injury which almost forced him to quit the game - the wretched tennis elbow, which had kept him away from the game for significant portions of time.

During his 24-year long career, the right-hander endured two phases since the start of this millennium.

The first was from 2000 to 2003, when he amassed over 1000 runs in a calendar year twice in Test cricket, in 2001 and 2002 respectively, with 12 centuries, and scored over 1000 runs once in ODI cricket during that incredible 12 month-period in 2003. He came close in 2001 as well, scoring 904 runs. In total, he managed 21 international hundreds in that period.

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The second was between 2007 and 2011, where he was more prolific in Tests than ODI cricket, scoring 16 hundreds in Tests, 7 of which came in 2010 alone.

Number of international hundreds scored by Tendulkar between 2000 and 2003
Number of international hundreds scored by Tendulkar between 2000 and 2003
Number of hundreds scored by Tendulkar between 2007 and 2011
Number of international hundreds scored by Tendulkar between 2007 and 2011

Fans of the great man might agree that Tendulkar's value as a batsman was more during phase one, when he had players like Laxman and Sehwag looking to follow in his footsteps and so his contributions to the team's cause were a lot more imperative.

In Test cricket, he played innings that helped India win. Chennai 2001 against Australia. Headingley 2002 against England. Multan 2004 against Pakistan.

The number of unforgettable batting exploits in the 2003 World Cup.

It was almost as if in that tournament, Tendulkar was given the license. The license to play his game and play it freely.

Wright's comments about Tendulkar reaching the mark came at a time when Sunil Gavaskar's tally of 34 Test hundreds was still the highest for any batsman.

By the time 2005 arrived, Tendulkar had already amassed 37 ODI hundreds and was tied for top spot with his idol on 34 Test hundreds.

That is 71 international tons in a career spanning 16 years, at the time.

Over the course of the next eight years, he amassed 17 tons in Tests and 15 in ODIs.

And on the 16th of March 2012, he completed the feat predicted by India's first ever foreign coach, against Bangladesh in Mirpur, where he scored his 100th and final international century.

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Massive Rafael Nadal fan. Occasional writer. blog: dravidkeeda.wordpress.com
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