Imran Khan: Tendulkar should have left after WCup

Former Pakistan captain and allrounder Imran Khan said Tuesday

Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar should have retired after the

”ultimate high” of a World Cup victory at home last year.

”The best time for him to have gone was when India won the

World Cup,” Khan told the CNN-IBN news channel. ”He is such a

great player and there is still no replacement for him really, but

he has to time it right.”

Khan, who himself retired after leading Pakistan to an epic

World Cup triumph in 1992, felt retiring now would not be right for

Tendulkar as India reels from a 4-0 test whitewash to

Australia.

”If he goes now, he won’t go on a high. If he had left at the

World Cup final, it would have been the ultimate high. The World

Cup final is the peak, there is nothing bigger than that,” the

59-year-old Khan said.

Tendulkar, who holds the record for both the most runs and

centuries in tests and one-dayers, is chasing a 100th international

century.

The man known by fans as ”the Little Master” had the

satisfaction of lifting the World Cup on his home ground of

Wankhede Stadium on April 2, but has been stuck on 99 centuries

since scoring two 100s during that tournament.

”Records should be apart of a win because they are eventually

statistics. The greatest cricketer I played against was Viv

Richards, but I don’t remember his records. He just loved to take

on challenges,” Khan said.

Khan, who played 88 tests and 175 one-day internationals during

an international career that started in 1971, said retirement was

always a difficult decision to make for a sportsman.

”I always wanted to leave on my own terms, never wanted to be

at the mercy of selectors. But very few get the decision right.

Most of the great players have also not got it right,” he

said.

Khan said it was difficult to say whether the time had come to

ease out the likes of Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman,

all in their late 30s, after their unimpressive performance in

Australia.

Tendulkar batted well in patches to score 287 runs from four

tests in Australia, while Dravid (194) and Laxman (155) could not

justify being India’s mainstays of test cricket.

”In Indian cricket, it is not one great player who has to take

the decision but three or four. The big question is – do you have

replacements? If the gap between a great player who is going down

and a young player who is going up is not much, you should back the

young players,” Khan added.

Khan also indicated that the advent of the cash-rich Indian

Premier League had affected the traditional forms of the game since

players now wanted to continue playing so as to remain in the

reckoning for IPL teams.

”The IPL is making a big difference because people want to now

prolong their careers. In 21 years, I did not make so much money as

an ordinary IPL player makes in two months,” he said.

The Indian cricket team now plays two Twenty20 games against

Australia on Wednesday and Friday before participating in a

limited-overs tri-series against Australia and Sri Lanka.

Tendulkar does not play Twenty20 games for India but will likely

play in the one-dayers.