James Anderson, the leader of England's pace attack, said he was in "awe" of Sachin Tendulkar. The India batsman has announced that he will retire from all forms of cricket next month following the home Test series against West Indies, which will coincide with his 200th Test match.
"He's one of the best I have ever bowled at, definitely," Anderson said. "You can be standing at mid-on watching him bat and you're in awe, I know you shouldn't be when you're on the field, but you could tell he was very, very special at what he did.
"Any time you get someone who is classed as one of the greats – like Ponting or Lara – it does feel a little bit more special," he added. "Every time I got him out I got that feeling."
Anderson retains special memories of Tendulkar's unbeaten 103 to win the Test against England in Chennai in 2008. "I'll never forget that knock at Chennai, it's frustrating to play against because he's so good but you have to respect him."
Tendulkar, the highest run-scorer in international cricket, said: "All my life, I have had a dream of playing cricket for India. I have been living this dream every day for the last 24 years." The 40-year-old, who has made a record 100 international centuries, added: "It's hard for me to imagine a life without playing cricket because it's all I have ever done since I was 11 years old.
"It's been a huge honour to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test match on home soil, as I call it a day." Known as the "Little Master", he has scored 15,837 runs in 198 Tests and 18,426 runs in 463 one-day internationals. However, he has not registered a century in his last 21 Test matches and last December he retired from limited-overs cricket.
It is hard for those outside India to appreciate the enormity of Tendulkar's fame or the level of adulation he receives. South Africa's captain Graeme Smith reflected: "It's always difficult to comprehend how someone like Sachin lives his life. He has always managed his career well, managed to perform under an extreme amount of pressure and never had any scandals, which is a credit on him and his family."
He made his debut as a 16-year-old in the heat of battle against arch-rivals Pakistan in 1989, and Sri Srikkanth said: "I was fortunate enough to be his first captain. I still remember him talking to me in a calm and cool manner then and even today he remains that same, simple human being."
Former team-mate Sourav Ganguly described Tendulkar as the most complete batsman he has seen. "He had all the shots in the world," said the former India captain. "Don't just think about the talent, because he was born with that. It is the effort he has put in which is for all young cricketers to emulate."