Sachin Tendulkar has been immortalised at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), his favourite stomping ground away from home, to mark his 50th birthday, which is being celebrated around the world. He becomes the first non-Australian cricketer alongside his great mate Brian Lara to be commemorated with a set of gates, used to access the field of play, at the iconic venue. The highest run-getter of all time and his fellow genius batter, who’ve shared a special friendship since they took the cricketing universe by storm in the early 1990s, will now share the Gates named in their honour.
They are located between the Member’s Pavilion’s away dressing room and the Noble Bradman Messenger Stand. And the Pakistan men’s cricket team are likely to be the first visitors to walk through the Lara-Tendulkar Gates early next year during the annual New Year’s Test in Sydney. The Indian team will have to wait another year before they get their turn to do the same.
The Australian cricket team have historically entered the field using the Don Bradman Gates situated between the Members and Ladies Pavilions to the right of their home dressing-room. Former Australian greats Arthur Morris and Alan Davidson are the other two to have gates named after them at the SCG.
It’s learnt by Cricbuzz that the decision to honour Tendulkar and Lara has been in the works since the summer of 2019-20, the last time the two former captains were in Australia together. But with Tendulkar’s milestone birthday approaching, it was decided that unveiling the Lara-Tendulkar Gates on April 24, 2023, was the perfect time to do so. And they were duly unveiled on Monday morning by SCG and Venues New South Wales Chairman Rod McGeoch AO and CEO Kerrie Mather, along with Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley.
This will be the first time that Tendulkar, who has a stand named after him at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, will have his name etched in stone at a famous venue overseas. It’s only apt though that it should be at the SCG, where Tendulkar had some of his best moments in Test cricket. The batting maestro averaged a gargantuan 157 across five Tests in Sydney, scoring three centuries starting with the 148 not out in 1991. It is during that knock that Tendulkar went from prodigious boy wonder to the next superstar of cricket or as Greg Chappell put it poignantly on commentary, “we are seeing the emergence of one of the shining stars of world cricket”. Tendulkar also recorded his highest score against Australia at the SCG, his mammoth 241 not out in 2004, in what was Steve Waugh’s final Test.
It was also at the SCG where Lara, who has a stadium named after him in his homeland of Trinidad, came of age with his breath-taking 277, a knock that is still considered to be among the best ever by a visiting batter in Australia. Lara’s epic ironically came exactly a year after Tendulkar’s arrival as a phenomenon on these shores. Between them, the two greatest batters of their generation tallied 1169 Test runs at a combined average of 97.41 at the SCG. And the Lara-Tendulkar Gates has a plaque that mentions the duo’s sensational records at the historic venue.
“The Sydney Cricket Ground has been my favourite ground away from India. I have had some great memories at the SCG right from my first tour of Australia in 1991-92. It is a great honour to have the gates used by all visiting cricketers to access the field of play at the SCG named after me and my good friend Brian,” Tendulkar said.
“I would like to thank the team at the SCG and Cricket Australia and for this kind gesture. I look forward to visiting the SCG soon,” he added.
“I am deeply honoured to be recognised at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as I’m sure Sachin is. The ground holds many special memories for me, and my family and I always enjoy visiting whenever I am in Australia,” said Lara, who named his first-born Sydney following his unforgettable double-century here.
According to CEO Mather, “Sachin Tendulkar’s record at the SCG is simply remarkable, while Brian Lara’s maiden Test century remains one of the most celebrated innings by a visiting player.” CA CEO Hockley, meanwhile, also acknowledged the significance for visiting teams walking through the Lara-Tendulkar Gates to enter “the hallowed turf at the SCG”.
“Their feats will no doubt be an inspiration to not only visiting international teams, but all players fortunate enough to walk onto the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground,” he said.
In addition to all the runs he scored at his “favourite cricket ground outside of my homeland”, Tendulkar and the SCG shared a special bond over the two decades that he visited the ground as a Test cricketer. And the chants of “Sachin, Sachin” reverberated around the SCG just as loudly as they did in stadiums around India every time he walked out to bat in Sydney.
“There’s certain grounds where you go out and feel that you can do well, and the SCG is one of those grounds where I feel comfortable,” Tendulkar had said before his final Test at the venue in 2012.
And now for generations to come, visiting batters from around the world will potentially feel like they can “do well” too here, especially since they’ll get to walk out to bat through the Gates named after two men who felt most comfortable in the middle of the SCG.