Saying Sachin Tendulkar is making the right decision to quit Test cricket after his 200th game in Mumbai this week, former captain Sourav Ganguly told NDTV in a chat show: "If I was Sachin, I would have quit a year ago." Tendulkar has not been in the best of form and in his 199th Test against the West Indies in Kolkata last week, the 40-year-old managed to score just 10 runs. (Watch)
Tendulkar has not scored a Test hundred since January 2011 and has just two fifties (76 against England at Kolkata in December 2012 and 81 versus Australia in Chennai in February 2013) in his last 20 Test innings. Considering his lofty standards (average 53.71 with a record 51 Test tons), Tendulkar has been lucky to keep his Test berth and Ganguly said: "Last two-three years haven't been good for him and only because he is Sachin Tendulkar, he has been given the run for three years. Nobody in world cricket or Indian cricket would have got that rope."
Ganguly told NDTV in Kolkata that Tendulkar has timed his exit to perfection. "You have got to accept that at some stage you have to go. Another six months in Test cricket it would not have helped Tendulkar. He has taken the right decision and for me, he has been a champion because I have seen him so closely from age of 14 years and I have seen the man grow. He is going out on a high and playing at home because if it was in South Africa he wouldn't have got half the adulation he has got here. He deserves every bit of the adulation...it's the right send off. If I was in his place I would have gone a year earlier but that's the way Sachin Tendulkar is."
Tendulkar will play his 200th and final Test in Mumbai against the West Indies, starting November 14. Since the age of 16, the 40-year-old has been playing international cricket and has carried the hopes and aspirations of a billion people for the majority of his career. Prince of cricket Brian Lara though cautions that it may not be easy for the Master Blaster to settle into a retired life.
"He will immediately feel a gap in his life," Lara told NDTV. "When you have spent a majority of your life playing cricket and following a dream, you wonder what to do after it all ends. But Sachin is a successful man, he will quickly get back on his feet." (Read: Lara compares Sachin to Michael Jordan)
Ganguly too believes that any gap in Tendulkar's life will soon be filled. "Sachin's got so much to contribute to Indian cricket and world cricket that he will find his way," said Ganguly of the man with whom he shared an emotional hug at the Eden Gardens last week. Ganguly added that while Tendulkar might need a break for a year, he will quickly be back as the ambassador of Indian cricket.
On the evidence of the first Test in the on-going series versus the West Indies, Tendulkar's fitness is as good as it can get with him chasing after every delivery on the field, his bowling and his running between the wickets. Ganguly though reckons that with the dip in form over the past two-three years, Tendulkar hasn't lived up to his own expectations.
"Sachin can still get runs with experience but the frequency between the big scores has reduced. This happens with age as a cricketer's reflexes become slower, said Ganguly. Looking back at a glorious career, Ganguly believes that Tendulkar can feel proud. "Once Sachin sits down after the Mumbai Test to reflect, he'll know he has done proud, there is nothing that he hasn't achieved and he is a champion!" Lara agreed as well. "He has nothing to prove to anyone," the former West Indian star said.
Catch the full show on NDTV 24x7 on Tuesday at 9:30 pm (IST)