That debate closed maybe even before Sachin was half-way through his career.
But is he "The" Greatest? That`s a very interesting question. There are many arguments in his favour. But before he can take on that mantle, the counter-arguments will also have to be countered.
This columnist in no way wants to belittle the Little Master but just point the finger to the other side of the debate.
Here are some "chinks" which go against the great man.
1. Performance in World Cup Finals: All-time greats perform brilliantly all the time, but when it comes to World Cup finals, they take it a notch higher. If they fail in one, then they fully rectify it in the second chance they get.
Pele, the man who scored more than 1000 goals in his life was statistically the greatest, but in the 1958 FIFA World Cup final hit two goals in a winning cause. He again struck when he got the chance in the 1970 final. Recently in 1998, Zidane scored two of the three winning goals in the WC final.
Clive Lloyd was the hardest hitting player of his time and he scored a century in the 1975 final. In 1979, teams feared the great Vivian Richards and he belted a century in the final too. It happened recently in 2003 with Ricky Ponting and 2007 with Adam Gilchrist.
Sachin got his chance in the 2003 final and perished in the very first over he faced. It was not an aberration, but a trend where he had been performing poorly in most tournament finals. He got the chance again in 2011 and could not even cross 20.
In fact after his debut, the very first World Cup he missed (Twenty20, 2007), we won!
Greats do the scoring themselves and do not watch from the sidelines. In Sachin`s era Gautam Gambhir (97, 75), MS Dhoni (91*) and Virender Sehwag (82) are some of the Indian players who have done well in WC finals.