New Delhi: Former India captain Kapil Dev has slammed the media's obsession with Sachin Tendulkar achieving 100 international centuries, saying the focus should be on the team's performance.
During India's recent tour of England, speculation reached fever pitch about Tendulkar reaching the landmark figure.
But the star failed to fulfill his fans' hopes and was left stranded on 99 hundreds -- 51 in Tests and 48 in one-day internationals.
India were blanked 4-0 in the Test series, conceding their number-one ranking to the hosts, and also lost the one-dayers 3-0.
"You seem more keen about Sachin's 99 hundreds and not about how we are going to win the next series," Kapil said while delivering the Dilip Sardesai lecture in memory of the former Test batsman in Mumbai on Thursday.
"I am not saying don't give credit to individual performances, but the country should come first.
"Everyone knows Sachin has 99 centuries, but how many know which of those have ended in victories? Out of Sachin's 99 hundreds, 60 have ended in wins. If anyone reports that I'll be happy.
"We have to change our mindset. If we lose the match, what's the use of statistics? To hell with that!"
Kapil, 52, regarded as one of the best all-rounders of his era, claimed a then-world record 434 Test wickets, besides taking 253 one-day wickets, before quitting the game in 1994.
He also scored 5,248 runs in Tests and 3,783 in one-dayers.
Kapil, who became India's first World Cup-winning captain in 1983, also blamed tight scheduling for the team's disastrous show in England.
The Indian players figured in the lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) a few days after winning the World Cup in April before leaving for the West Indies and England tours.
"The players did not get time to unwind and enjoy their World Cup victory. They had worked four years for it. But they just got four days before the IPL began," Kapil said.
"They should have got more time to enjoy the moment. If you don't give time to unwind, you lose the passion to play. That's what happened in England."
Kapil also wanted players to be paid more for representing the country than their IPL franchises.
"How can you give more money to play for a club and not for playing for the country?" he said.
Kapil, who played 131 Tests and 225 one-dayers over a 16-year career, wanted the burden on seamers to be reduced in order to avoid injuries, like the ones to current spearheads Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel.
"The cricket board should understand how much burden the fast bowlers can take," he said. "They can't bowl for 365 days."