London: Legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne has paid rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar terming him the "best batsman" of his generation and said that there won`t be another player like the retiring Indian great in years to come.
"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, who is expected to be present in Mumbai for the iconic batsman`s 200th and final Test match, said,
Warne, the second highest wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket, had many interesting duels with the Indian legend and feels that Tendulkar was the "best in all conditions against all types of bowling" and also possessed a wonderful temperament.
"The pressure he was under from the India public was immense but he handled himself on and off the field in a way that was respected by all," Warne wrote in his column for the `Daily Telegraph`.
Tendulkar, who is all set to become the first man to play 200 Test matches, has almost all the records in his kitty, including highest number of runs in both Tests and ODIs as well as 100 international centuries. But for Warne, Tendulkar`s feats can`t merely be measured by a few numbers.
"There will not be another Sachin Tendulkar. 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. Sachin is far more than a man with great numbers to boast about," Warne wrote.
Warne termed the phase between 1994 and 2000 as the best years of Tendulkar in international cricket.
"His best years were between 1994 and 2000 when he was just brilliant. He is still a very good player but it is hard to compare the Sachin of today to the man of 15 years ago."
"In the mid-1990s, he was phenomenal against the quicks and spin. He judged the length of a ball so quickly, which enabled him to have a lot more time to play the right shot or let it go."
According to Warne, Tendulkar kept the basics of batting pretty simple.
"Sachin also kept it very simple. He was still at the crease so, if it was pitched, up he drove it, if it was short, he pulled it. It was his judgment of length and clarity in his head with shot selection that made him so dominant against all opposition bowlers in all sorts of conditions." Warne wrote.
As per Warne`s assessment, next to Tendulkar would be West Indian Brian Lara, who according to the leggie was "more destructive than Sachin".
"Second on my list would be Brian Lara. We all used to love watching Lara bat except when you had a ball in your hand and he was probably more destructive than Sachin. A third pool of players would include Jacques Kallis, Graham Gooch, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Kevin Pietersen but there is a fair distance between those guys and Lara and Tendulkar."
For Warne, the two stand-out Tendulkar innings were his 155 on a difficult Chennai track in 1998 and 241 in Sydney in 2003-04 when he didn`t hit a single cover drive for almost 10 hours.
"I saw Sachin play some great innings but two stand out. In the 1998 Test in Chennai I dismissed him fifth ball in the first innings. In the second, he hit me for six second or third ball and went on to make 155 in tough conditions to set up India to win the Test.
"Six years later at the Sydney Cricket Ground he made 241, his first Test double-century. I was injured at the time so was commentating but I had a great view of his innings from the box. He had been dismissed a few times in that series by Australia bowling full and wide. He nicked off to slip and the keeper and went into the Sydney Test on the back of scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44."
Warne recalled how Tendulkar curbed his natural instinct to play a cover drive.
"He (Tendulkar) decided he would respond by not playing a cover drive. Now the cover drive is a fairly large part of a batsman`s armoury. When bowlers are pitching it up and trying to swing it you tend to play a lot of cover drives, but he did not play a single one in more than 10 hours at the crease. It summed up his mental strength."