On Sachin Tendulkar's 35th birthday on Thursday, legendry Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne wished the master batsman as many playing years as he wanted.
Warne said cricket fans would have to wait for long to have another player of Tendulkar's calibre, so he should be allowed to continue his career instead of critics suggesting him to retire in the wake of his injuries and occasional form-slumps.
"He is a great player. We may have to wait for many-many years to have another player like him. He should be allowed continue till he wants to," said Warne while his stay in the city for a recent Indian Premier League match.
Warne, who is captaining and coaching the Rajasthan Royals team in the Indian Premier League, said Tendulkar was "the best" batsman in the recent times.
"I feel West Indian Brian Lara and Sachin are the best batsmen of the recent times but I rate Sachin "the best" not only because of his amazing cricketing ability but also because of the exemplary manner in which he conducts himself on and off the field.
"He is a wonderful guy. Naturally and exceptionally talented, affectionate and always smiling. There may be other good batsmen in the world but I feel that the word 'great' has been used most often for him. I feel Sachin is truly 'great' because of the manner in which he conducts himself. He is disciplined, co-operative, naturally talented and dedicated player," he said.
Warne, who faced Tendulkar many a time on the field, said the Mumbai batsman was not only his cricketing rival when but also a family friend.
The burly tweaker, who recently had boasted that he has smart brain and outthinks batsmen, said he had still not forgotten the smashing he had got at the hands of Tendulkar.
"Perhaps there are only a few occasions when I had him read me wrongly. Once in Melbourne, I had him padding my flipper as he couldn't read me correctly. But I still remember another occasion when he smashed my first bowl to the fence and on the next I had him caught in the slips with a big spinning ball. Such rare occasions gave me great satisfaction.
"I am happy for him that he is back in his best form and happy for myself that now I don't have to bowl to him."
On Tendulkar's best innings, Warne said he remembered only a few of them.
"I think his 180-plus knock at Mumbai and his 100 in Perth in 1992 series were outstanding apart from many others. The most-loved thing about him was to his back in the field," said Warne.