Sachin Tendulkar might be giving retirement a thought after 23 years at the international level but former captain Anil Kumble says he cannot think of Indian cricket without the iconic batsman.
Kumble, however, refused to be drawn into the debate of when Tendulkar should retire and said the decision should be best left for the veteran batsman.
"I can't think of Indian cricket without Tendulkar and I want him to continue," Kumble said when asked about Tendulkar telling a television channel that he will re-assess his future next month as at 39 he does not have much cricket left in him.
"It's a privilege to have shared Indian team dressing room for 13 years with Tendulkar. Eventually, he will have to take the call (for retirement). But this question of when to retire should be best left to him only," added Kumble after launching his sports academy TENVIC at a city school.
Kumble said it's hard for any sportsperson to call it quits after playing for a long time at the highest level.
"For any sportsperson it is a tough decision and it is for the individual to take the call. Tendulkar will also eventually have to take the call," said the former leg-spinner.
On to other topics, the third most successful spinner in Test cricket disagreed with the view that spin bowling is on the wane in the game.
"It's not like that and spin is doing well. You have Graeme Swann of England and he is a fantastic bowler. There is Saeed Ajmal (of Pakistan) and we have R Ashwin who has matured a lot in the matches he has played so far for the country," he said.
"Then you cannot discount Harbhajan Singh who has taken more than 400 Test wickets and he is 32 only and some years to go on playing. So, it's good future in spin department in the India," he added.
Kumble, who is the founder of TENVIC Sports Academy which he set up in Bangalore in 2010, said the country needs to nurture sports culture at the grassroot level starting from the schools.
"We need to make sports a way of life. The country needs to nurture a sports culture and we have to do it from the grassroot level starting from the schools. That's why I have decided to launch an academy here at the Ryan International School (Rohini)," he said.
Kumble is currently the president of Karnataka State Cricket Association and also chairman of BCCI Technical Committee and he said his sports background gave him the advantage in tackling administrative issues also.
"I think I am being able to tackle administrative issues better because of my sports background. Sports teaches you how to deal with the highs and lows of life. Moreover, I am happy that I am being able to give back to the game I have been so passionate about and to the society in general," he added.
Talking about the highs and lows of his career, he recollected the famous Test against Pakistan in 1999 in Delhi when he was the hero of India's win with a 10-wicket haul and subsequent struggle in the next match.
"Delhi has been special to me. I took 10 wickets against Pakistan in a Test at Feroze Shah Kotla here but next match in Kolkata I struggled and took just one wicket and that was of Shoaib Akhtar who was number 10 batsman.
"So, a sportsman has to face ups and down in his career but it teaches the person to be a better individual and a better citizen. I also don't buy the notion that sports and study don't go together. I want to say that it's a myth as I have pursued my engineering study along with my passion in cricket," he said.