Sachin is the ‘greatest’ of my era: Muralitharan

New Delhi: “His wicket was always the most important for us,” said legendary Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan as he paid tribute to Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar terming him the “greatest cricketer” of his generation who played the game like a “true gentleman” for 24 years.

Muralitharan, with whom Tendulkar has fought many a stirring battles, said the sheer hard work and dedication Tendulkar put in over the years made him a “legend”, who played the sport with great enthusiasm, passion and dignity.

The 41-year-old off-spinner, who took a staggering 800 Test wickets and over 500 One Day scalps in his 20-year-long international career, said while Sir Don Bradman is the greatest when it comes to averages, but for the number of runs and for longevity, Tendulkar would go down as the greatest of his era.

“Sachin is the greatest cricketer of my time. He is the modern-day great. His passion, dedication, hard work before every game, and his love for cricket stood out for me and that makes him the greatest player I have ever seen since I started playing in 1992,” Muralitharan told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“I have not seen others. I have not seen Don Bradman bat.

If you look at the average, Bradman is the greatest but if you look at Sachin’s stats, the sheer amount of runs he has scored, his longevity…it makes him the greatest cricketer of my time. Nobody played for such a long like him. I have no doubt while stating that he is the greatest.

“His love for the game, his attitude, putting in a lot of hard work before every game, practicing hours and hours to prepare for the match, that’s how he became a great player.

Sachin is just amazing and remained the same person I met him 24 years back,” said Muralitharan.

A teary-eyed Tendulkar on Saturday brought the curtains down on his illustrious 24-year-old career at his home ground, Wankhede Stadium, after India crushed a hapless West Indies by an innings and 126 runs in his farewell match to complete a 2-0 series whitewash.