New Zealand cricket great and former world Test-wicket record-holder Sir Richard Hadlee said on Thursday that the sport would be poorer without Australian leg spinner Shane Warne, who retires after the Ashes series.
Hadlee, who held the world record of 431 when he retired in 1990, was in awe of Warne and his record 699 scalps.
"A lot of batsmen in world cricket will be delighted to learn he's leaving the game, but I think the game will be poorer without him," the former seam bowling kingpin told Radio Sport.
"He has been a matchwinner, flamboyant and just incredible to watch.
"I've admired his skills over a long period of time."
Warne on Thursday announced his retirement from international and Australian cricket at the end of the current Ashes series against England, pulling stumps on a flamboyant career.
Hadlee said the controversial off-field moments in Warne's career should be ignored, given what he has contributed to the sport.
"As far as I'm concerned it doesn't diminish any of his achievements whatsoever," he said.
"When you're a high profile person, people are looking to attack your personal life, perhaps pull you down.
"To Warne's credit, he's still soldiered on. His performances on the field do all the talking," he said, adding "the leg spin delivery is the hardest ball to bowl in cricket."
Despite his praise of the 37-year-old Warne, Hadlee wondered whether Sri Lanka's 34-year-old spinning wizard Muttiah Muralitharan would move past him when the game's true greats are measured years from now.
"Even now, Murali, I think, has had a greater impact on the game than perhaps Warnie," he said, citing the Sri Lankan's superior strike rate and average over 110 tests.
Muralitharan has taken 674 wickets at an average of 21.73, nearly four runs a wicket better than Warne.