Australia skipper Michael Clarke has paid tribute to the soon-to-retire Sachin Tendulkar, calling him 'the greatest batsman of our generation'. "He is the greatest batsman that I have seen or played against. May be he is only second to Sir Donald Bradman in history," Clarke said in an interview with a leading newspaper.
However Clarke adds that Sachin's retirement was 'bound to happen' but said that the game would be poorer for it. "When such a player decides to call it a day an entire legion of fans feels the pain. He is the most complete batsman that I have seen and his longevity is what sets him apart in comparison to everyone else," Clarke, the current Australian Test captain, told the Times of India. (Read full interview here)
Clarke doesn't mention Ricky Ponting at all while comparing Tendulkar with the greats of his generation. Clarke has played most of his cricket with or under Ponting, who retired from international cricket last year. But Clarke seems to be upset with Ponting's comments in his autobiography, "The Close of Play". "It never worried me if a bloke didn't want a drink in the dressing room,' wrote Ponting in reference to Clarke. "But I did wonder about blokes who didn't see the value in sticking around for a chat and a laugh and a post-mortem on the day's play."
Clarke has had public feuds with Simon Katich and Shane Watson in the past and is seen as a divisive figure by many in Australia. However, his opponent for many years, Tendulkar, is much-loved by the Australian public and Clarke's believes the Master Blaster's popularity transcends boundaries.
"Sachin has played some of his greatest cricket in Australia and is the perfect ambassador of our game," the 32-year-old says. "He is perhaps the only cricketer of our generation who gets a standing ovation at every Australian cricket ground. He is aggressive and in many ways he played cricket the Australian way."
Tendulkar will play his 200th and final Test versus the West Indies in Mumbai between November 14-18. Clarke believes the legacy that Sachin leaves will be unmatched for years to come. "Sachin has always treated Test cricket as the pinnacle of our sport and that's a lesson that should be passed on to future generations," Clarke said.