| Sourav Ganguly and Dilip Vengsarkar, in Mumbai, on Thursday |
New Delhi/Mumbai: Former India captains Sourav Ganguly, Kapil Dev and Mohammed Azharuddin extended their support for Sachin Tendulkar, who is under pressure to call time on his illustrious career after being bowled three times on the trot in the Test series against New Zealand.
Sourav said he is convinced that the senior batsman would respond in a befitting manner.
“It’s not the first time he was 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’m sure people’s talk (about his retirement) must have hurt him and he will respond to it,” Sourav said, after delivering the fourth Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture at the Bombay Gymkhana.
Sourav 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 retires, he will go on a high like it should be for every player and more so for the great man,” said the stalwart while answering a query before a packed gathering, which included former Test players Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar and Bapu Nadkarni.
Kapil also echoed Sourav’s views. “Honestly, I wanted him to retire after the World Cup win. But the need of the hour is that I will stand by him. I want to back him and want him to go with a big smile,” Kapil, the first World Cup wining captain, said.
“It is tough to leave a game you love. It was tough for me as well. And he has got so much in the last 23 years. So, it's wrong for us to discuss (retirement),” Kapil said.
Azharuddin, one of the most successful Indian captains, suggested Tendulkar to play more matches to rediscover his form.
“I have found that he has become a little slow. Reflexes go slow with age and pressure. It's been 23 years now and it takes a toll. Everyone is talking about Virat Kohli. He is doing well because he has played so many matches. Sachin played the two Test matches (against New Zealand) after three months. I think he needs to play more.
“Now that he wants to continue playing, he should play more matches. And when he goes, he should go with a smile, everyone should know it before and then celebrate that game,” Azhar said.
However, Kapil took a jibe at Tendulkar for not expressing himself clearly as he hardly gives opinions. “I have not seen a better sportsperson that India has produced. But in his 23 years as a player, I still don’t know him. That’s the problem. We must know his opinion,” he said.
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 close to 40… He can’t play all forms of cricket. I feel he should concentrate more on Test cricket,” Ganguly said.
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.
Both Kapil and Azhar also asked youngsters to excel in Test cricket and not get distracted by Twenty20 format.
"No cricket is bigger than Test cricket. T20 is exciting for youngsters. There is fun on that track but there is danger too. It's good to see sixes and boundaries but real cricket is Test cricket," Kapil said.
Echoing the same sentiment, Azhar said," Test cricket is the real test of a cricketer. I think, the ICC and all the cricket Boards should make efforts to ensure that Test cricket stays no matter how many formats come."