The fourth instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.

This week we pit two of the most iconic batsmen in the last 25 years.


Sachin Tendulkar vs Brian Lara

  A batting comparison in Test cricket


PARAMETER Sachin Tendulkar Brian Lara Maximum or
Highest (100%)
Number of Tests 200 131 Sachin Tendulkar (200)
Runs Scored 15,921 11,953 Sachin Tendulkar (15,921)
Batting Average 53.78 52.88 Don Bradman (99.94)
Average runs per match 80 91 Don Bradman (135)
Percentage of team runs scored 15.76% 20.33% Don Bradman (25.32%)
Batting Impact 51 62 Don Bradman
Runs Tally Impact 58 71 Don Bradman
Pressure Impact 56 93 Peter May
Batting Impact in wins (min. 20 Tests) 52 86 Don Bradman
Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests) 57 89 Don Bradman
Impact Away (min. 15 Tests) 37 36 Don Bradman
Impact in Aus/Eng/SA (min. 10 Tests) 43 38 Don Bradman
Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests) 42% 34% Don Bradman (27%)
Number of Series-Defining performances 6 (once every 33 Tests) 5 (once every 26 Tests) Inzamam-ul-Haq and
Rahul Dravid (8)
Number of high impact performances 25 (once every 8 Tests) 22 (once every 6 Tests) Ricky Ponting (32)
Most dominant period in career October 2008 – October 2010 March 1997 – April 1999 n/a
Number of years as highest impact batsman 2 (1998, 2010) 2 (1999, 2003)   Arthur Shrewsbury Snr. – 3
(1885, 1886, 1893)
Jack Hobbs – 3
(1912, 1914, 1926)
Len Hutton – 3
(1938, 1950, 1954)
Garry Sobers – 3
(1958, 1959, 1966)
Highest impact batsman in a match 21 26 Kumar Sangakkara
(29 times in 134 Tests)
Highest impact batsman in a series 6 (in 67 Test series) (in 36 Test series) Kumar Sangakkara
(13 times in 56 series)




Lara’s impact is 62% that of Bradman. Tendulkar’s is 51% that of Bradman. So, Tendulkar’s impact is 18% less than Lara’s.

Lara is amongst the five highest impact batsmen in Test cricket history (minimum 50 Tests). Tendulkar is not even amongst the top 30.

While Tendulkar is ahead in all conventional numbers (aggregates, tallies and averages), the one telling statistic which separates Lara from him is the percentage of runs scored in proportion to the total team runs scored over their respective careers – also indicative in their Runs Tally Impact . This shows how crucial Lara was to a weak West Indian team in the second half of his career.

Contrary to popular assumption, Tendulkar played more of a support role throughout his career whereas Lara played a lead role for his country. Thus, Lara’s contribution in winning Tests is much higher and amongst the best in Test history.

Again, contrary to popular perception, Lara was a much more consistent batsman than Tendulkar was in Test cricket.


As the two most visibly talented batsmen of their generation, it is their approach that separated them and the respective impact they had for their teams, and on the game.

In Tests, Tendulkar very rarely raised his game to the occasion, something Lara seems to have done several times. As a result, pretty much all of Tendulkar’s records are longevity records while Lara’s records have a lot more to do with single occasions. Little wonder then that Lara is the considerably higher impact batsman of the two.


Nikhil Narain
Illustrations: Vasim Maner