Having made his Test debut on November 15, 1989, Sachin Tendulkar went on to dominate the cricketing world in the next two deacdes, etched his name repeatedly in the record books and left behind a lasting legacy
Even as the nation was busy celebrating Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test, played at the Wankhede stadium in November last year, the batsman quietly achieved another landmark.
The Master Blaster, in what happened to be his farewell Test, entered the 25th year of his international career.
On 15th November, 1989, Tendulkar made his Test debut as a 16-year-old against Pakistan at the National stadium in Karachi. He scored 15 before a fellow-debutant (Waqar Younis) cleaned him up.
In the years that followed, the batsman amassed almost 16,000 Test runs (@54) and a record 51 centuries, not to forget 200 Test matches, the first player ever to do so.
As he entered the 25th year of his career, he joined an elite group of players to have achieved the feat.
While English all-rounder Wilfred Rhodes still holds the record for the longest cricketing career, having represented his country for 30 years 315 days from June 1899 to April 1930 – sandwiched between the two World Wars -- there were only three other cricketers who played as long or even longer.
Englishman Dennis Close's Test career lasted 26 years and 356 days. Coincidentally, he played in less matches than the number of years he played.
Between July 1949 and July 1976, Close appeared in only 22 Test, without a century or a five-wicket haul.
Another Englishman Frank Wooley’s career spanned 25 years and 13 days – albeit on either side of the First World War.
The all-rounder played his first Test, against Australia at the Oval, in August 1909 and played his 64th and last match against the same opponents, and at the same venue, in August 1934.
The legendary George Headley too played 10 days into his 25th year in international cricket.
Headley, who averaged 61 in Test cricket, played his first match against England at the Oval in January 1930 and his last against the same opponents, at Sabina Park, in January 19 1954.
Tendulkar entering his 25th year in international cricket was a testament to his longevity, perseverance and consistency, three attributes that defined an illustrious career in every sense of the term.
With the West Indies failing to provide any kind of resistance whatsoever, Tendulkar signed off on a high. For the record, he scored a strokeful 74 in his final Test innings.
Since his retirement, the Master Blaster has purchased a team (Kerala Blasters) in the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) and released a well-received autobiography title Playing It My Way.
Tendulkar may have retired as a player but the impact he had on the game will always be there.