MUMBAI // With Sachin Tendulkar set to hang up his bat, the best cricketers of his era have been unstinting in their praise.
From feared opponents such as Shane Warne and Brian Lara to respected teammates Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, everyone has picked different features of Tendulkar’s greatness and found unanimity on one point - there will not be another one like him.
West Indies great Lara, with whom he has often been compared, said Tendulkar was to cricket what Muhammad Ali was to boxing.
“There are boxers with better records than Muhammad Ali, but if you mention the word boxing, you have to mention Muhammad Ali,” Lara said at a Tendulkar farewell function. “When you talk of basketball, you have to mention Michael Jordan. When you speak about cricket, I’d speak of Tendulkar.”
Australia legspinner Warne, who dismissed Tendulkar three times in 12 Tests, said his greatness went beyond his numerous batting records.
“Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman of my generation and it will be a privilege to be in Mumbai this week to commentate on the first two days of his final Test,” Warne wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph. “The pressure he was under from the Indian public was immense but he handled himself on and off the field in a way that was respected by all.”
Tendulkar plays his 200th and last Test for India against West Indies from Thursday.
“There will not be another Sachin Tendulkar,” Warne added. “I always teach young players that cricket is not about averages even if it is a stats-based game. It is about how and when you score runs or take wickets. The great players deliver when the team is up against it and statistics do not tell you the truth about such things.”
Dravid, who was in a record 20 century partnerships with Tendulkar in Tests, considers him the most dependable batsman.
“To bat for my life, I would probably choose Sachin; and if I had a ticket and if I had enough money to watch one, I would choose Lara,” Dravid said in his ode to Tendulkar.
Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains, said Tendulkar was a champion batsman but felt he should have retired earlier.
“The last two-three years have not been good for him,” Ganguly said. “It’s only because he’s Tendulkar that he’s been given that run. No one else in world cricket would have been given that run.”
Ganguly said it was apt that his farewell game was being played on his home ground, where India also won the 2011 World Cup.
“It’s a fact that at some stage you have to go. Playing in South Africa (which India tours next) he would not have got such adulation. It is the right send-off for a champion. But if I was in his place, I’d have gone a year earlier,” Ganguly said.
But former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist felt Tendulkar was still a vital team member even during his lean period.
“I’m sure if you ask Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma what’s been the most valuable part of them being around Sachin Tendulkar, him scoring a hundred or him just being there, I think just to be around Sachin they would all be very excited,” Gilchrist said at a promotional event on Tuesday.