They say human beings are obsessed about the number ten because they have ten digits in every limb. For the same reason, numbers like 100, 1000, 10000, are more lucrative than, say, 671, 2342, and 38247 despite the magnitude. There was a reason that people had waited with bated breath in anticipation of Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth international hundred, despite meaninglessness of the milestone.
You did not reach the 100-mark they have so yearned for. We will never know now whether you had tears in your eyes that day. All we know is that they have never made anyone like you, and they are not likely to make another. Even a hundred hundreds will not take the sheen away from the magic number of 99.94 — a number beyond the dreams of mortals in any format of the sport at any level.
There is no doubt that you were the greatest. The only debatable aspect is whether you were the greatest across sports; whether anyone has dominated any sport the way you had; whether their failures pipped war news to the headlines when you failed: it was an occurrence that unthinkable.
Tales can be concocted to the liking of the narrators. Numbers, on the other hand, leave no scope for imagination. You have ruled the world of numbers. Once again, 99.94 remains beyond the scope of mere mortals, despite the fact that we live in an era when 50 is fast becoming the new 45.
It was fitting in a way that you did not reach the 100-mark. It reduced your godlike stature that little bit, making us believe that even you could be felled, even you are mortal. Had cricket been a religion, you would certainly have been a god; but that 99.94 made you become a Hercules instead of a Zeus: beyond the impregnable exterior there lay a human being.
Happy 106th, Sir Don.