Sachin Tendulkar © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar is the latest entry in the League of Legends © Getty Images

The Laureus Sports Awards recognise the best in sport every year in a glittering ceremony. Sachin Tendulkar was inducted into the Academy during the recent ceremony in Shanghai. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at cricket’s connection with Laureus Sports Awards.

Sachin Tendulkar was inducted into Laureus World Sports Academy during their ceremony in Shanghai on Wednesday. Tendulkar walked into the League of Legends alongside the basketball star Yao Ming, gymnast Li Xiaopeng, athlete Tegla Loroupe and Yang Yang, the speed skater. It is a great honour for one of cricket’s biggest colossi in recent times. Tendulkar has been a giant with a successful 24-year-long career behind him commanding a following all over the globe — which includes a billion-strong Indian population. Sachin Tendulkar inducted into Laureus Sports Academy

Tendulkar’s name now features with sporting legends such as Gary Player, Franz Beckenbauer, Sebastian Coe and Nadia Comaneci to name a few. Tendulkar is not the first cricketer to be inducted into the Academy. His countrymen and former teammates Rahul Dravid and Kapil Dev have already been parts of it. Steve Waugh also features in the list, not to forget Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards who also occupy a spot in the league of legends. While these notable names figure in the list, the sport has also managed a few accolades over the years at Laureus. Sachin Tendulkar, Yao Ming, Tegla Loroupe pose at Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony

Every year Laureus honours the best in sports. The categories include Sportsman of the Year, Sportswoman of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year, Team of the Year, and Spirit of Sport, to name a few. So far, cricket has managed to win the Spirit of Sport twice and Team of the Year once. If one look at the individual winners every year, one would realise that an overwhelming majority are from individual sports. That is a reflection of the fact that cricket is a team sport (though individual contributions matter big time).

© Getty Images
Australia was named Team of the Year in 2002 © Getty Images

The first time any cricket side was recognised by Laureus Sports Awards was back in 2002 when Australia was named Team of the Year. That side is arguably the greatest to have walked the planet along with the West Indians from mid-1970s to mid-1990s. Australia won the award at an interesting time, when Waugh continued at the helm in Tests and Ricky Ponting had taken over in one-day cricket. Australia’s dominance in that era was justified as they continued to rule the world until the 2007 World Cup with their battery of legends.

Two years down the line, in 2004, India and Pakistan jointly won the Sport for Good Award. India visited Pakistan for the first time in seven years that year, ending a long bilateral deadlock. The political situation off field had its impact on sport, but this tour saw the two nations embrace each other. Indians had travelled to Pakistan and were warmly greeted all over. Some went back to visit some of their old houses and lands. This series was huge not only from the cricketing point of view but from a human perspective.

Similarly, Afghanistan team won Spirit of Sport ten years down the line. For a country that has borne the brunt of repeated conflicts, this team has emerged as a ray of hope. From a team assembled in refugee camps and in a country trying to stand up on its feet, they rose through to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and three World T20s. Back in Afghanistan, these players are stars and have been inspirational for their country. They have a message that is bigger than just sport, but what it can do to foster unity and bring happiness to people.

Then there have been other nominations such as England in 2012 and Rajasthan Royals in 2009. Australia were nominated for Team of the Year in 2001, 2004 and 2008 as well. Brett Lee was nominated for Breakthrough of the Year in 2001. England were also nominated for the Comeback of the Year in 2005, along with Shane Warne for the same award. Warne and Lee are the only cricketers nominated individually for Laureus Awards. In future, it would be nice to see teams getting awards and a few individuals getting through as well.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)