The calls for retirement might have grown louder after Sachin Tendulkar was bowled three times on the trot in the recent Test series against New Zealand, but former India skipper Sourav Ganguly is convinced the senior batsman would respond in a befitting manner.
"It's not the first time he has been bowled. It has happened when he was at his peak. He had then found a way and he is going to do it again. I am sure people's talk (about his retirement) must have hurt him and he will respond to it," Ganguly said here on Friday, after delivering the fourth Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture at the Bombay Gymkhana.
Ganguly was sure that Tendulkar would call it a day when he's on a high like all great players do.
"Having played with him for so long, you got to believe he's not over. When he goes he will go on a high like it should be for every player and more so for the great man," said the Bengal stalwart while answering a query before a packed gathering, which included former Test players Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Bapu Nadkarni.
Tendulkar had been bowled in the three innings he played in the two-Test series against the visiting Kiwis in Hyderabad and Bangalore, triggering a debate whether the champion batsman should retire.
Ganguly noted Tendulkar's advancing age and said the batsman should now concentrate on Test cricket more while utilising the limited overs cricket to get into the groove for the longer version whenever possible.
"He has in the past used One-day cricket to stay in focus for Tests. But it's up to him as he knows his game better than others. He's getting on in years, he's 39-40. He can't play all forms of cricket. I feel he should concentrate more on Test cricket," Ganguly said.
Asked about India's chances in the upcoming World T20 championships, the former captain said India had a good team but cautioned that it cannot win the World Cup all the time.
"India had won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and then the bigger World Cup in 2011. You cannot win the World Cup all the time. T20 is a hit and miss game. India has the team but needs to play well on the particular days for two weeks," he said.
Ganguly was of the opinion that first-class cricket has improved a lot from the time he started playing in the late 1980s, with there being vast differences in the standard of wickets and facilities provided to the players.
"The big improvement (made) by BCCI is the pitches and how the players are looked after," he said.
Ganguly was firm that when selectors look for players to graduate to Tests, they should always look at performance in Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup games and not the lucrative and popular IPL.
"IPL is a great thing to have happened to Indian cricket as it allows our first-class players to play alongside great cricketers of other countries. But when the selectors want to pick a Test player they should look at the performance in Ranji, Duleep and Irani, not IPL," he maintained.
Ganguly categorically said he was not interested in becoming India's coach in the foreseeable future.
"My hat is not in the ring," the retired cricketer said, adding that he always felt that captain was the boss of the team and the coach was to complement him.
Asked a tricky question about what would be the things he would take from former India coach Greg Chappell, with whom he had a torrid relationship when he was captain, and what would be the things he would not, if he took up coaching Ganguly said the former Australia captain was very good to discuss about batting one-on-one.
"He was fantastic to discuss about batting one to one. But on a load of things I would not follow him," he said, to peels of laughter from the gathering.
Looking at the way the Indian fast bowlers had dropped in pace after a few years at international level, Ganguly felt they needed personal physical trainers to work with.
"Players are on the road all the time. When I toured England in 1996 the only time I visited the gym was to see how it was. But things have changed with the arrival of foreign trainers.
"A personal physical trainer needs to be there for our fast bowlers all the time. When Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel started their careers they clocked 150 kph but two years down the line they had become line and length bowlers," he said.
Ganguly emphasised that while winning at home was welcome, a player's true worth will be judged only when he performs well outside the country.
"Touring and performing overseas is the true measure of a player's worth. India needs to emulate what they did in 1971 (under Ajit Wadekar) and in 1986 (in England). The last two tours to England and Australia (when India lost 8 Tests on the trot) was disappointing," he said.
In this respect the former left-handed batsman singled out Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara as the men who can take the team forward.
"I see youngsters like Kohli, Pujara and the captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) taking India forward," he said.
Expressing happiness over the spin bowling of R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha in home conditions when they demolished New Zealand (and West Indies last season), Ganguly wanted them to perform as well when India tour overseas.
Ganguly was of the opinion that new-age cricketers who are growing up with the riches of IPL in their eyesight, will realise that true satisfaction will come only when they perform well in Test cricket.
"Playing for India is much bigger than IPL. They will all realise that satisfaction level in playing and performing in Tests is much higher than IPL," he said.
He also remarked in a lighter vein that captaining India was much easier than captaining a franchise in IPL as in the former's case there was no need to answer the selectors or BCCI bigwigs after a poor day in office for the team.