‘Quiet, humble, a great player, and a great man’

Shane Warne, the finest legspinner of all time, has just compiled his list of the 50 greatest cricketers for The Times, London, and at the very top of the pile, at No. 1, is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar ahead of Brian Lara, who is No. 2.

There are five other Indians on the list: Dilip Vengsarkar (46), Ravi Shastri (42), Kapil Dev (40), Rahul Dravid (14) and Anil Kumble (13).

“You have to watch India in India truly to appreciate the pressure that Sachin Tendulkar is under every time he bats. Outside grounds, people wait until he goes in before paying to enter. They seem to want a wicket to fall even though it is their own side that will suffer. This is cricket as Sachin has known it since the age of 16. He grew up under incredible weight of expectation and never buckled once – not under poor umpiring decisions or anything else. I place him very slightly ahead of Brian Lara because I found him slightly tougher mentally.

“It is such a close call, but here is an example of what I mean: in Australia in 2003-04 he was worried about getting out cover driving so he decided to cut out the shot. I saw the wagon wheel for his next innings: he scored 248 without a single cover drive. Like Lara, he has scored runs all over the world. I have seen him run down the pitch and hit Glenn McGrath over the top for six, and I have seen him hit me for six against the spin going around the wicket. I have been lucky to get to know him off the field as well. He is quiet and humble. A great player and a great man.”

Read the entire Warne list: Shane Warne’s 50 greatest cricketers