NEW DELHI - Tributes poured in Thursday from fans, players and experts after legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from Test cricket next month after a 24-year career.
The announcement by the 40-year-old batsman, who is the highest run-scorer in the history of Test cricket, was given blanket coverage by Indian TV networks and news websites. The reactions were tinged with sadness but most acknowledged that it had been inevitable and came at a time when his reflexes were clearly showing signs of slowing down.
"One of the greatest ever is retiring. One of my heroes and a absolute joy to play against," wrote former England captain Michael Vaughan on Twitter. Kevin Pietersen wrote that the right-hander was the "undisputed champion of cricket".
The father of two, the only player to make 100 centuries in international cricket, will hang up his boots after a home series against the West Indies in November which will see him complete 200 Tests. "This is the hardest call to make when you have played cricket for 24 years. This decision is entirely his own and it gives us an opportunity to celebrate Tendulkar in the years to come," said cricket historian and author Boria Majumdar.
"There will be an overflow of emotions when he takes the field for his final Test," Majumdar told AFP. The Indian Express newspaper conceded that Tendulkar had not been at his best in the recent past. But it greeted news of the announcement with a picture captioned "The God retires".
Sourav Ganguly, a former India captain, told the NDTV news channel that Tendulkar's "commitment to the game and his temperament stood out". "He is India's biggest cricket asset and I am sure he will be involved with the game in future," said Ganguly.
Veteran Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle found it difficult to keep his emotions in check. "You knew it was coming, it was inevitable, then why Sachin do you still produce this numbness?" he wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, India's Sachin Tendulkar, who has announced his retirement next month, was widely regarded by his cricketing peers as the greatest batsman since the Australian legend Donald Bradman.
Here is a selection of quotes on the man dubbed the "Little Master": Donald Bradman: "I saw him (Sachin) playing on television and was struck by his technique, so I asked my wife to come look at him. Now I never saw myself play, but I feel that this player is playing much the same as I used to play, and she looked at him on television and said yes, there is a similarity between the two... his compactness, technique, stroke production... it all seemed to gel."
Australian spin legend Shane Warne: "Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt -- daylight second, Brian Lara third."
West Indies great Viv Richards: "He has been a genius when it comes to ability, a Trojan when it comes to work ethic and manic when it comes to his focus."
Former teammate Rahul Dravid: "What he has done is set a benchmark for future generations which, probably, would be almost impossible for anyone to emulate." West Indies contemporary Brian Lara: "Sachin is a genius. I'm a mere mortal."
Anil Kumble, who holds the record for most Test wickets for India: "I am fortunate that I've to bowl at him only in the nets." Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni: "His schoolboy-like enthusiasm for the game is something I envy and admire. For the team he is the best available coaching manual."
England coach and former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower: "There are two kind of batsmen in the world. One, Sachin Tendulkar. Two, all the others." Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan: "I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing us to breathe the same air as you do."