New Delhi: India's explosive opener Virender Sehwag on Wednesday saluted retired Australian great Matthew Hayden, saying he had not seen an "attacking batsman of his calibre."
Hayden, whose aggressive strokeplay was similar to that of Sehwag, retired from international cricket on Tuesday after a poor run with the bat in Australia's recent series.
But his 8,625 runs in 103 Tests at an impressive average of 50.74 with 30 centuries convinced Sehwag that Australia will struggle to replace a batsman of Hayden's stature.
"I have not seen an attacking batsman of his calibre in my career," Sehwag told the Mumbai-based Daily News and Analysis (DNA) newspaper.
"The game of cricket has lost a great player. Crucially enough, Australia have lost a rare cricketer. His absence will be felt just as the retirement of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath was."
Sehwag, who has two Test triple centuries to his credit, said he was amazed by Hayden's consistency over the past few years.
"In the last eight years he has scored more than 20 centuries," he said. "You can be sure that Australia will not be able to unearth an opener who can hit 20 centuries in the next eight years.
"I have played eight years and managed only 15.
"If Australia won so many matches in the last eight to 10 years, it was because of the starts Hayden provided. They would reach 500 in just over a day and it would be largely because of his batting.
"The best thing about him was that he took advantage of his weight and height. A player of his size can be intimidating for any bowler. He attacked the bowler from the word go."
Sehwag said Hayden's in-your-face attitude on the field left rivals flustered.
"He is the only batsman I know of who abused the bowler while batting," the Indian vice-captain said.
"He sledged while batting. He could talk to the bowler and yet stay on the crease and concentrate on his business. Not only that, he could even sledge the fielders while batting.
"I am sure his retirement will come as a relief for the bowlers."
Sehwag, however, said he loved playing against Hayden and hoped he would get a chance to open with the Australian outside international cricket.
"My personal equation with him was good. We respected each other," he said.
"I have never had a chance to open with him. Actually I would love to do that. I want to watch him bat from the other end."
Hayden will turn out for the Chennai Super Kings when the next edition of the Indian Premier League starts in April. Sehwag captains Delhi Daredevils in the lucrative Twenty20 tournament.
India beat Ricky Ponting's Australians 2-0 in a home Test series in November to annexe the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.