What were you doing on 15th November 1989? Were you even born – and if you were alive, were you following the cricket? We could say that each of the 51allout staff remember the day vividly and were aware of the Test about to commence in Karachi. But we could also say that we were too busy playing kiss chase with that pretty girl Laura from our class (both would be a lie, it’s more likely we were entering spelling competitions and trying not to fall over when playing football).
Anyway, we don’t normally need an excuse to go all retro here at 51allout – we love reminiscing about the past and especially the late 1980s, an era when nostalgia truly was memorable – so we thought we’d look back at a day when cricket could be said to have moved from the past to the future.
Only five cricketers have had longer Test careers than Sachin Tendulkar, all as varied as they were enduring. Wilfred Rhodes had a career spanning across five decades (1899-1930). Brian Close debuted at the age of 18 and appeared to have played his last Test eighteen years later…until being selected for three infamous appearances against the West Indies in 1976 at 45 years young. Frank Woolley’s 25 year career started way back in 1909. George Headley was at the forefront of West Indian cricket for more than 24 years. The career of the fifth man on the list was the most bizarre of the lot: John Traicos played three Tests for South Africa in their whitewash over Australia in 1970 and then played four times for Zimbabwe at the start of their Test history in the early 1990s. (An aside: the only other extant player within the 60 longest Test careers is Shivnarine Chanderpaul, still crabbing along 18 1/2 years since his debut). Sachin, who was 16 on debut, might not have many miles left in his tank, but his 190 Tests and still counting might make his career the most remarkable of all.
But let’s start with the really important issue. The top 10 singles at the time were as follows:
(Cooler kids might want to note that the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays played the same episode of Top of the Pops later this month – with thanks to Andrew Collins for the exact date).
Tendulkar’s debut came against Pakistan; one of the opposition bowlers was Imran Khan, whose career extended back to 1971 (incidentally, his own debut was against the veteran Colin Cowdrey – we could just keep going back past until we reach the primordial soup of 1877). At the time Imran was ranked the third best bowler in the world behind Richard Hadlee and the late Malcolm Marshall. The best batsmen were officially Javed Miandad, Richie Richardson and Viv Richards. Familiar names, indeed legendary ones, but players who retired long before the start of the T20 era. That first appearance preceded the Test debuts of Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain, Mushtaq Ahmed, Brian Lara and Chris Cairns – all of whom have long since retired although all are admittedly older than the prodigious Tendulkar.
During the course of his first Test, FW de Klerk announced the Separate Amenities Act would be scrapped and students began to gather in a protest in the centre of Prague; the movement of East Germans through the Berlin Wall had begun a week earlier. Steve Smith was just five months old, but already showing promise in the batting, bowling and banter departments. Joe Root hadn’t even been conceived (unless, and we admit this is unlikely, Mrs Root had a 13 month gestation period). The editor of the Harvard Law Review was one Barack Hussein Obama.
A week later, slightly appropriately, Back to the Future II was released and Tendulkar made his his first half-century in international cricket. Perhaps in 2035, we will see Root playing in his 191st Test. Hopefully, if he is, it will involve hoverboards.