Port of Spain: Batting legend Viv Richards has not seen Sir Donald Bradman but of all those he has seen, including compatriot Brian Lara, none has been better than iconic Indian Sachin Tendulkar.
"I didn't see Don but to me, in all my years associated with the game, I haven't seen a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar," said Richards in a eulogy to the "little man", who openly professes to have idolised him while growing up.
"If there is a better batsman than Sachin then he hasn't arrived yet."
In one stroke, Richards put Tendulkar in a pedestal above his contemporaries such as Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis and even to the legends such as Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad of his era.
As for Bradman, his career lasted 20 years including a few years disrupted by Second World War. Tendulkar is already in his 22nd year of international cricket. Bradman scored 29 centuries in 52 Tests.
In all formats of the game, Tendulkar has 99 international centuries so far.
"To me the most remarkable thing about Tendulkar is how he has completed the full cycle of his cricketing career, overcoming pain, agony, failures, fatigue, injuries yet continuing relentlessly till the point the circle was complete.
"He is the most complete package, the cricketer I respect more than anyone else."
Richards defended Tendulkar's decision to skip the complete West Indies tour.
"The administrators though need to strike the right kind of balance. They must not kill the goose which lays the golden egg. They must not be caught on the wrong foot. The same is true for the volume of cricket. It could cut short international careers," Richards said.
"It's for the administrators to strike the right balance.
Look at FIFA. They have club football which rolls out millions and millions dollars for its stars yet a national team is never debased. When it comes to top events, most national teams are at full strength," he added.
Richards couldn't quite tell if match-fixing had once again begun to eat away at the very core of the game.
"I don't know of any incident. I don't have any proof. So I can't tell if the authorities are doing enough or whether they need to do more.
"All I know is if there is someone who accepts money to make his own team lose against the rival team, his own nation against another nation, it is nothing short of treason. The same punishment should come his way as is reserved for a traitor."