The master blaster speaks February 11, 2005

Richards picks Lara and Tendulkar above all

Cricinfo staff

Richards maintains that Sachin should not be compared with him, for Sachin "is a giant in his own right" © Getty Images

Sir Viv Richards, the West Indian legend, has named Sachin Tendulkar as his favourite overseas player and Brian Lara as his best in the Caribbean. Writing in a newspaper column, Richards stated that Tendulkar had invited less controversy than his counterpart Lara, though Rahul Dravid was the most stylish batsman around.

"They are different people...because of the different culture they come from. Lara, being a left-hander, is flashy and elegant," Richards was quoted in The Press Trust Of India. "There is a certain panache about his batting - his bat comes down on the ball with a high backlift. Tendulkar stands still at the crease but loves to attack and is very positive."

Tendulkar, who is currently nursing a tennis elbow, is expected to be fit for the Pakistan series. But in recent times his career has been wracked by frequent injury. But Richards reckoned that while Tendulkar's passions still ran high, if he could maintain his fitness level, he could continue playing for another four years.

Richards recalled the first time he had heard of Tendulkar. In 1990, on India's tour of England, Tendulkar had smote Ian Bishop over his head for six in a game against Derbyshire - an experience the bowler shared with Richards later, adding that the little man [Tendulkar] was dangerous. The comment surprised Richards, for Bishop was not one who praised easily.

Richards wrote that Tendulkar was a batsman of rare ability and has become an icon over the years. He acknowledged that Tendulkar's knock of 241 against Australia in Sydney was resilient and full of character. If you could score against Australia, Richards reckoned, you could score anywhere. "This kid has been brought up on pressure. Ever since he was young, he shouldered responsibility. When he was captain, I always thought a big burden had been placed on somebody so young."

Many people over the years have drawn comparisons between the two greats, but Richards wrote that it was misleading to place them beside one another. "If he was to walk off the field today, without ever lifting a bat again, he would still be one of the icons, a true legend. Let's not confuse things by comparing him with Viv or anyone else. He is a giant in his own right."