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Warne one of the greatest: Tendulkar
December 21, 2006 18:49 IST
Shane Warne received glowing tributes from ace Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who described the ace leg spinner as "one of the greatest cricketers ever" and said the game will miss such a "special" player.
Terming Warne's retirement as "unfortunate", Tendulkar said the Aussie "is surely one of the greatest cricketers the world has seen".
"He has also been a top spinner; the other top spinner is playing in my team -- Anil Kumble -- and then there is Muttiah Muralitharan. These are the three spinners anyone would like to have in their teams."
Duels between Tendulkar and Warne were one of the biggest contests in world cricket for over a decade. The battles were invariably won by the Indian, forcing Warne to admit that he had "nightmares" about him.
"Well [as for me], you had to be awake to play Warne. There was no breathing space. Warne being such a fierce competitor, you knew there was no stage when you could run him out of the game; he was always coming back at you and that kept me going, kept me on [my] toes," the former India skipper said.
"I have always maintained it's not Warne and Sachin; it's Australia and India. People like to build these things up; there was somebody else before us and there would be somebody else after us. Such things keep happening."
Tendulkar went down memory lane to recall two incidents when he felt like speaking up to Warne at the end of play.
"I remember my first hundred against Australia in a one-day game in Sri Lanka; I hit him for a six and he was saying something. I didn't know what he had said, since I was walking towards the square-leg umpire.
"Later I asked him if he could tell it to me [what he had said]. We shared a joke and since then we have been friends.
"We always had good competition, we also shared nice humour."
The other incident was the first Test in Adelaide in the 1999-2000 series, when Tendulkar was leading India and fighting from the front for his team. In both innings Warne is believed to have claimed him wrongly, first caught at forward short leg off the pads and then declared leg before wicket by one that had pitched outside the leg-stump.
"I did catch up with him [afterwards] since we are good friends. We had a good laugh and such things keep happening. But it was a bit of disappointment; you want to score runs against top bowlers of the world but we laughed it off."
Tendulkar views Warne as a special friend and said there weren't many cricketers who could stand next to him and feel that they had done similarly well.
"We shared a great understanding and he was a very good friend; there were not many who could stand next to me and feel that they had done similarly well."
Tendulkar also said Warne was a treat to watch.
"He comes in a very special lot. We don't see such cricketers every day. He has been a treat to watch. I don't know what was going in his mind [when he announced his retirement], but he knows better. What he has achieved is remarkable. He has been a great ambassador for cricket and Australia.
"It's unfortunate that he is retiring; we would all miss his quality bowling. He is surely one of the greatest players to have played this game all-time. Above all, he is a wonderful person. What he has been able to achieve for Australia is very special."
Tendulkar said he has already sent across a message to the champion bowler.
"I want to wish him all the best. I've already sent the message to him; above all he must have good health; that's important."
As somebody who has suffered a spate of injuries as Warne has, Tendulkar sure knows he has sent across the most well-meaning message to an old, worthy rival.