The man they called King Viv, Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, paid rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar in the recently released book, Sachin - Cricketer of the Century, written by journalist Vimal Kumar and published by Penguin India. Over to Sir Viv:
Sachin is just phenomenal. He is one individual I have always admired for years. When people ask about me and Sachin says that he wants aggression like mine and Sunny's solidness, it is very pleasing. I am over the moon (whenever I hear this).
Bradman is very much revered in the modern world. However, I didn't see Sir Don Bradman batting but I saw Sachin batting and that for me is the best thing I have seen in batsmanship. Sachin is just magnificent.
It is the greatest compliment for me that such a figure, and so humble, and saying that he wanted to bat like me! I would say Sachin is a class act and I would pay back the compliment.
In many ways, Sachin reminds me of Sunny Gavaskar. If Wisden does that survey (Five Cricketers of the Century) again, may be Sachin will be at the top. His figures suggest that. Folks, people who sit on the panel are influenced by what kind of impact a player has made. What kind of effect one had in winning. In that regard, Sachin is number one. I would happily take the No. 6 in that list of Cricketers of the Century.
Another fine aspect of Sachin is his overall personality, his off-the-field conduct. Shane Warne was a personality on and off the field and a little bit more eccentric than Sachin. With Sachin, you want to emulate him 100 per cent on and off the field. In terms of mannerism and conduct, he gets maximum marks in all subjects. Sachin has led his personality in all the right directions. And it helped him to accomplish the things he has. It has played its part.
A genius like Sachin has also struggled at times. There have been some tough times. It's all about how you work harder and how you make a comeback. Sachin has come back better than anyone else. He has had some problems with injuries, but always had a solid head.
What I mean by the ultimate professional is scoring runs against all the teams that are part of the ICC's cricket programme. When you do that with total professionalism, it's great for the game. There is a song which says if you are solid in body and mind and you have the talent, you will get things done. Sachin did it against the lowest and he did it again the best. That's why he is an allrounder for me.
I can remember the very first time I saw him was in England against Ian Bishop (when India played a warm-up game against Derbyshire during the 1990 tour). Sachin came on the front foot and punched it (Bishop's delivery) straight over the sight screen. To me Bishop was one of the most feared fast bowlers and to show that kind of disdain to a guy who, when fit, was as good as any of the famous fast bowlers! I immediately realised this guy's really special.
Hundred international hundreds are a new benchmark of greatness, but for me it is difficult to pick the best out of 100 hundreds. Sachin's ability to concentrate while being very aggressive will be reflected in most of his innings. Sachin has made Indian cricket much better than it ever was.
I am very glad that Sachin is now part of a World Cup-winning team. Put the crown over his head maan, he is the king of batsmanship.