| Former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. He announced his participation in the third edition of the McDowell’s Signature Celebrity Golf to be held on Saturday. (PTI)
New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar's style of batting got a vote of confidence on Friday from West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards who said that the Indian ace was batting quite maturely, expected of players of his age. Sachin, who has played attacking cricket over the years, has come in for criticism in recent times for a change in batting style which appears to be defensive.
But Richards said Sachin has already proved himself and it would be very difficult for any other Indian player to match his on-field achievements.
'I read an article just before the Pakistan series where people asked questions about Tendulkar. I feel that if he quits cricket right now, he will still remain a legend,' Richards told reporters.
'He is now more into a fortifying role. You must respect that he has grown older. He can't always fulfil the things that is expected of him.'
Richards, who is here to take part in a charity golf tournament to be played in Gurgaon on Saturday, said the Indian batsman has carried the responsibility of the team for a long time with success.
'He has carried India's mantle for long. He has done his job and has done it well. He may be looking to play the way he started his career, but that is not always possible.
'When you are 21, you are the best, with a perfect sight and good hand-eye co-ordination. At 26, you get a lot of wiser. Tendulkar is now a very mature player.'
Richards also praised Virender Sehwag's batting prowess but said that Sehwag needs to be a little more consistent to scale new heights.
'I would like to see Sehwag be a little more consistent. I like his style, the way he plays. He does not care about the bowler and I like that. But he needs to concentrate a little more. I am sure he will do that as he grows older.'
On comparison between Sehwag and Sir Don Bradman, he said 'judging from what I have seen of the Don, there is no comparison at all.'
He also disagreed that explosive players like Sehwag and Shahid Afridi were copying his batting style. 'I don't think they are aping me. Viv Richards is Viv Richards. I won't compare myself with anyone else.
'When I was playing I drew inspiration from others, but never aped anyone. Each player has his own style.'
Richards also had a piece of advice for the beleaguered Sourav Ganguly, saying the Indian captain needed to believe in himself to come out of the rut.
Sourav has had a poor run with the bat in recent times and his misery was compounded when he was handed a six-match ban by the ICC for India's slow over-rate during the just-concluded series against Pakistan.
'He needs that character, strength. He is in such a rut. But he must keep his head above the water and believe in himself.'
Richards praised Irfan Pathan and Zaheer Khan, saying the duo have it in them to serve the country for a long time. 'When you have left-armers, they can work things in your favour. I always found it bit funny to face left-arm bowlers from the angle from which they deliver the ball.
'Both Pathan and Zaheer gave Australia a whole lot of trouble. If you keep them fit, they can do a lot of good to your cause.'
Turning to West Indies, Richards said Shivnarine Chanderpaul was doing a good job as a captain, but declined to acknowledge that the return of some of the players, including Brian Lara, into the fold for the ongoing Test series, following a dispute over sponsorship deal, has done any good to the side.
'Chanderpaul did well in Guyana in the first Test. That's a huge bonus for West Indies cricket. But when they went to the second Test with several stars, they lost by a big margin. 'We would have loved to see Lara a little more successful as a captain. The saddest part is that when he scored runs, it did not reflect in the performance of the team.'
He regretted West Indies' failure to produce 'intimidating and 6 feet- five inches tall' bowlers any more who could have made a difference to the fortunes of Caribbean cricket.
On the upcoming World Cup, scheduled to be held in the West Indies in 2007, he said 'its going to be tough (for West Indies). I believe we should at least have a team in place that can handle some pressure.'
Richards said Pakistan's good show in India must have instilled a lot of confidence in the team ahead of next month's Test series against West Indies.
Richards, who played against some of the best batsmen in the world, declined to pinpoint any one as the best.
'It would be unfair to single out one person. I have seen a lot of players who are wonderful cricketers,' he said. 'Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Lawrence Rowe, Gordon Greenidge, Greg Chappell were all great players. But I won't name one as the greatest.'