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World's Best: Tendulkar - a man forever etched in Yorkshire history

— 11 October 2017

By Graham Hardcastle

Next summer sees India and their current hero Virat Kohli visit Headingley for a one-day international against England.

It may be a stretch to say Kohli is carrying Indian cricket on his shoulders, but he is certainly that talismanic figure which a cricket mad nation looks to for inspiration.

Over the last few years, he has taken up the mantle from Sachin Tendulkar, the original Indian hero and a man forever etched in Yorkshire history.

In 1992, Tendulkar was signed as the county’s first ever overseas player, an injury replacement for Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott, who suffered a groin injury on the eve of the season.

Cricket chairman Bob Platt and committee member Brian Close were part of the decision to go for a batsman to replace a bowler.

“Our greatest need was in the fast bowling department, so it was quite a change,” recalled Chris Hassell, Yorkshire’s chief executive at the time.

“But this was our first overseas, and we wanted a high profile player. We couldn’t just go for a Joe Soap who nobody had heard of. The pressure was on us to go for a really big name.”

  • Hassell was the man who tied up the deal following help from well known Bradford League professional Solly Adam, who knew Tendulkar.

    When Yorkshire found out McDermott wasn’t coming, they were in South Africa on pre-season tour. So Hassell had to fly from Cape Town back to the UK and out to India to tie up the deal for a 19-year-old, who was already making waves at the top level.

    Having debuted in Test cricket as a 16-year-old – the late John Hampshire, Yorkshire’s president last year, umpired his first match in Pakistan – he had scored three hundreds before debuting for the White Rose.

    His first came against England at Old Trafford in 1990.

    The iconic unveiling photo saw him don a flat cap and hold up a pint of Tetley’s bitter, the county’s sponsor at the time, and he went on to score 1,671 runs in 35 appearances across all forms, including two hundreds.

    He topped 1,000 Championship runs with a top score of 100 against Durham at the Racecourse Ground: “Everybody loved him to bits, including all the members,” said Hassell.

    Tendulkar’s only season with Yorkshire was a success, with him fitting into the dressing room like a glove.

    “He got us a free curry at every restaurant in England, which was a bonus!” recalled Richard Blakey, Yorkshire’s wicketkeeper.

    “Wherever we went in the country, he always knew someone. Generally speaking, the local curry house invited all the team round to eat on his hospitality.”

    He even invited a number of the squad and off-field staff such as Hassell to his wedding a few years later, although only Phil Carrick went.

    Tendulkar retired from international cricket in 2013 with 100 centuries to his name.

    “From the outset, you could see that he was a player of immense quality,” recalled Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s captain.

    “Some of the innings he played for us were outstanding, and he was just a very humble, well spoken, well mannered young man. He was a pleasure to have around.”

    Tendulkar, who was awarded an honorary life membership of Yorkshire in 2014, had played against the White Rose at the T20 Champions League in 2012 when representing home team Mumbai Indians, with him run out cheaply.

    Since Tendulkar, compatriots Yuvraj Singh and Chesteshwar Pujara have represented the county as overseas players.

    It would be fantastic if, one day, Kohli joins that list. But, for now, Yorkshire fans will have to settle for seeing him in action in the one-day international between England and India on July 17.