Sachin Tendulkar, the legendary Indian cricket batsman, has announced that he will retire from the sport next month. The 40-year-old former India captain, profiled by TIME last year as the “God of Cricket” and the “world’s best cricketer,” will end his career with two matches against West Indies, which will make 200 Tests for his career.
Robert Croft, a former bowler who played international cricket for England and Wales until he retired in 2012, has played against Tendulkar several times. For Croft, the word ‘great’ is thrown around far too much in sport – but he concedes Tendulkar is more than worthy of the term. “I think he carried a nation,” Croft says. “He has conducted himself in a masterly way – there’s no doubt he has a wonderful technique and a terrific mindset and aptitude for scoring runs. Not only that, his work ethic was second to none.”
Tendulkar is the world’s highest scorer in both Tests and one-day internationals, with 15,837 runs in 198 Tests and 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs. He made his international debut in 1989, when he was just 16, and last year he became the only batsman in the history of the game to reach 100 international centuries.
Matthew Hoggard, a former bowler for the English cricket team, says that Tendulkar stood out in the cricket world due to the fact he scored so many runs, while making it look easy and effortless. But in addition to being one of the best players Hoggard has ever played against, he was also “so humble and down to earth off the pitch – such a lovely guy.” Hoggard adds that Tendulkar will be sorely missed by everyone who watches the game, not least his home fans. “Tendulkar epitomizes Indian cricket and has been one of the biggest ticket sellers in Indian cricket for the last 15 years – he’s a pleasure to watch,” he tells TIME.
Sourav Ganguly, a former captain of the Indian cricket team, celebrated his teammate for more than a decade. “[Tendulkar] had all the shots in the book but what was striking was his hunger for the game, not just the talent he was born with but what he did with that talent,” he said, speaking on the NDTV news channel.
In a statement, Tendulkar said it was difficult to imagine a life without playing cricket and that he has been living his dream for the past 24 years. “It’s been a huge honor to have represented my country and played all over the world. I look forward to playing my 200th Test match on home soil as I call it a day,” he said.