Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar BCCI

Shane Warne has had many a battle with Sachin Tendulkar over the years, with the Little Master coming out on top on most occasions, and there is little doubt in the mind of the Australian legend that the little man from Mumbai is the best batsman of his generation.

Tendulkar calls it a day on an unbelievable 24-year career after his 200th Test in Mumbai against the West Indies starting Thursday, and Warne, who will be there to watch his good friend in action, paid rich tribute to India's favourite cricketing son.

"Sachin Tendulkar was the best batsman of my generation and it will be a privilege to be in Mumbai this week to commentate on the first two days of his final Test," Warne wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph. "The pressure he was under from the India public was immense but he handled himself on and off the field in a way that was respected by all."

Tendulkar has sometimes been criticised for not playing enough match-winning innings for India. But Shane Warne refuted those views, saying Tendulkar was by far the best in the business, and meant much more to the sport than the incredible statistics - Sachin owns the majority of the batting records.

"There will not be another Sachin Tendulkar," Warne wrote. "I always teach young players that cricket is not about averages even if it is a stats-based game. It is about how and when you score runs or take wickets. The great players deliver when the team is up against it and statistics do not tell you the truth about such things. Sachin is far more than a man with great numbers to boast about."

Tendulkar had his halcyon days in the 1990s, when he used to carry the entire India team on his shoulders, while his attacking style would send a shiver down even the best bowlers' spines.

"His best years were between 1994 and 2000 when he was just brilliant," the Aussie great observed. "He is still a very good player but it is hard to compare the Sachin of today to the man of 15 years ago. In the mid-1990s, he was phenomenal against the quicks and spin. He judged the length of a ball so quickly, which enabled him to have a lot more time to play the right shot or let it go.

"Sachin also kept it very simple. He was still at the crease so, if it was pitched, up he drove it, if it was short, he pulled it. It was his judgment of length and clarity in his head with shot selection that made him so dominant against all opposition bowlers in all sorts of conditions."

The batsman that Tendulkar is always compared with, amongst his contemporaries is Brian Lara, and while admitting the West Indies left-hander was more destructive, Warne believes Lara was just one rung below Tendulkar.

"Second on my list [after Tendulkar] would be Brian Lara," he said. "We all used to love watching Lara bat except when you had a ball in your hand and he was probably more destructive than Sachin. A third pool of players would include Jacques Kallis, Graham Gooch, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Kevin Pietersen but there is a fair distance between those guys and Lara and Tendulkar."

Sir Donald Bradman saying Tendulkar reminded a lot of him is, of course, now one of the most famous quotes out there in cricket and Warne, who, along with the Indian great, was a guest at Bradman's 90th birthday, believes there cannot be a greater compliment.

"Sir Donald Bradman paid him the ultimate compliment. On his 90th birthday, he asked to meet two cricketers, Sachin and myself. We went to his house in Adelaide together and shared a special day. We were both a bit shy and quiet when we met Sir Don but treasure the few hours we had with the great man talking about the modern game and how he used to prepare.

"He [Sir Don] told us the biggest improvement in the modern game was fielding and he said his preparation was going to the office for a few hours before walking down to the Adelaide Oval for a few throw downs. It is a bit different to hydration tests and three hours of warm-ups before the game these days."

"Before we left, I remember he said to Sachin that he loved the way he batted and of all modern players he reminded him the most of himself. You can't get a greater accolade than that."