New Delhi:Perfect timing has been the hallmark of Sourav Ganguly's batting and the stylish left-hander chose the right time to call it quits, believe former players.
Former captain Bishan Singh Bedi, a bitter Ganguly critic at some point, on Tuesday hailed the left-hander, calling him a 'legend' of the game.
"I would like to celebrate his retirement, rather than mourn it because of his enormous contribution to Indian cricket. A great player, a legend of the game has hung up his boots and we all should celebrate his contribution," Bedi said.
"I'm not surprised since such a possibility was doing the rounds. It looked very much on the cards. I think he thus became a forerunner among the senior players and I hope he went on his own terms," he added.
The spin legend, however, appealed to all to treat senior players with lot more respect.
"We've to deal with them with lot more compassion and respect. Players like Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are great cricketers and should not be ridiculed," he said.
Chief selector K Srikkanth said Ganguly had spoken to him and fellow selector Narendra Hirwani before announcing his retirement.
"We had a chat with him and he felt it was his time (to go). Every now and then, the axe was on him and he said, 'Chika, let me play once without any pressure.'
"I pray he scores a lot of runs against Australia and India win the series. Because guys like Sourav Ganguly deserve to go out on a winning note," Srikkanth said.
Srikkanth was, however, evasive when asked whether the Board had struck a deal with senior players like Ganguly on their retirement. World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev also hailed the decision and said the country was proud of him.
"We all enjoyed his batting and his passion for the game. I would not mourn his retirement but would recall the joy he gave us all with his game.
"I hope he plays a gem of a knock against Australia and makes us proud. We are anyway proud of whatever he has done for the country," Kapil said.
Like Bedi, Kapil also urged everyone not to pressurise senior players and said, "It's a very difficult decision for any player. It's unfair to put pressure on anyone.
"I don't understand the logic behind this debate on senior players' retirements. Why don't people talk about Board officials' retirement with the same fervour? Nobody knows the pain a player goes through while deciding to quit. I think we should let the great players decide it themselves," Kapil added.
Kapil also felt that Ganguly proved a point by making a successful comeback after being dumped by the then India coach Greg Chappell.
"Outsiders don't understand the feeling of our people, the kind of respect we have for these players. I think that he made a comeback and proved himself all over again made it clear that he should not have been thrown out in the first place. He made a point and proved people wrong," Kapil added.
For ex-India pacer Javagal Srinath, it was a bold decision by his former captain.
"I am surprised by the decision, and at the same time it is a very good decision from Ganguly. He has been under a lot of scrutiny for quite some time and people had started doubting his capabilities.
"He has done wonderfully well for the country. A dignified exit was imperative on his part and there can be no better than this," Srinath said.
The former pacer said Ganguly served well but was not treated with the respect he deserved.
"I am pretty pleased on what he has done today. At the same time I am disappointed at the way he was ignored, dropped and then brought back into the team. There should have have been a better plan and better exit for Ganguly from the game," Srinath said.
"I would be very pleased for Ganguly if he can really make a difference in the series (against Australia), scoring tons of runs and may he play his best cricket in his career and leave the game on a high," Srinath said.
Kiran More, who had a stormy relation with Ganguly during his stint as the chief selector, also showered praise on the left-hander.
"It was no doubt a big decision by him. He probably wanted to go out on a high and the series against Australia provides him a great opportunity. He has done a fantastic job for the country and we all respect what he has achieved," More said.
More was effusive in his praise for Ganguly's leadership abilities and said, "He was a brilliant captain. I mean the way he led the team against Australia and Pakistan was just fantastic."
Former Test cricketers Chandu Borde and Bapu Nadkarni said Ganguly must have taken his retirement decision after a lot of thought.
"Frankly it did not come as a surprise to me. He's a thinking cricketer. These cricketers know their bodies well. He must have thought deep and consulted people whom he trusts and then decided," Borde told PTI.
Borde recalled that it was the selection committee headed by him which made Ganguly the skipper of the national team when Sachin Tendulkar decided to suddenly abdicate the throne at the end of the Test series against South Africa in 2000.
Borde did not think the decision to retire by Ganguly, India's most successful Test captain, would influence the other senior team members to follow suit in the immediate future.
"It's up to the other senior players now. All these talks about retirement plans of these players are the creation of the media. They are all mature individuals and capable of taking decisions on their own," he emphasised.
Nadkarni supported Borde by saying the decision on when to retire should be left to the concerned individual.
"Personally I felt Ganguly had two more years of cricket in him. He did fail in Sri Lanka but so too did the others (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman). Probably he felt he would be thrown out and wanted to go out on his own terms," the former left arm spinner said.