Mumbai: It is irrelevant if Sachin Tendulkar comes up up with big knocks or not in his swansong series but he surely deserves a good farewell for his sheer dedication in the last 24 years, former skipper Rahul Dravid said on Monday.
Tendukar will bid adieu to the game after playing his 200th Test against the West Indies in Mumbai next month. "I just hope he really enjoys the last two games and enjoys his cricket irrespective of whether he scores or not because that is irrelevant. I hope he has a lot of fun and those two matches will be two great occasions. I just want to wish him all the best and say thank you for all that he has done for Indian cricket for the last 24 years," Dravid said.
"He is one player who has never let his standard come down. His love for cricket has been consistent from the age of 16 to even now at 40. I would like that he does well in his last two Tests and signs off with a good performance.
"His family is also coming down so both these two Tests will be a big event. He has worked hard for so many years now so he deserves a good farewell," Dravid told reporters on the sidelines of a Gillette event.
"Everything is known about him. Probably he is the most written about cricketer of this generation and probably ever."
Dravid, who himself is a highly respected figure in international cricket, said it would be difficult to get near to Tendulkar's achievements.
"I played a lot of cricket with Sachin. I have seen him since childhood. He has been with the Indian team for a long time and he is a great cricketer not only in India but what he is accomplished, his statistics, his performance is difficult to replicate," he said.
Asked who he feels can get into Tendulkar's shoes after his departure, Dravid said it would be unfair to expect any youngster to immediately fill the void.
"There are some good young talented players. When you look at what Virat (Kohli) has been able to do in one-day cricket and even in Test cricket, is quite exceptional. I think India's one-day batting is good as I have ever seen it. It's sensational the top six, seven they have at the moment. So just a question of some of these young guys being able to fill in. Look it is not going to be easy to fill those shoes.
"So you have got to give people time. Hopefully these young guys, you have got a Kohli or a (Rohit) Sharma, (Ajinkya) Rahane, (Suresh) Raina, so many of these young guys pushing for slots. It is going to be interesting to see which one of them can sort of hold onto a permanent slot for a while," he said.
The former Karnataka player added that he is hopeful to watch his former India team-mate for last couple of times and said his retirement wasn't a surprise.
"I am hoping to. I hope to do some media work around the couple of games that are there. I hope to be there. When you are 40 and have played as much as you have, it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. It is just reality of sport and life, that kind of age people have been talking for a while now and I am sure he has been thinking about it for a while," he said.
Saying that it is difficult to pick one memorable innings of Tendulkar, Dravid said, "Everybody is asking me to pick out one good innings of Sachin but when somebody scores 100 centuries it is difficult to pick just one innings. You can't pick one innings out of 150 and I won?t want to do that because I want to remember his full career."
Dravid was of the view that his Rajasthan Royals' team-mate Rahane could do well for the country, provided he is given a longer run. "I think he is an exceptional player and Rahane has really done very very well. I think whenever the opportunities has been given to him he has done well. I really hope that he gets a more consistent run to show his worth. He has shown that when got that confidence in Rajasthan. He has really flowered as a player and I hope that happens in India as well. It is a tough environment but he is a tough kid," he said.
With the bowlers going for plenty of runs in the ongoing limited over series against Australia, Dravid said that the bowlers need to execute better during the slog overs.
"It's a tough series for bowlers. I mean it has not been easy series on both sides. It is very hard to blame our guys. They are young, they are inexperienced. It's not easy to be a bowler with all these field restrictions coming in. What needs to be an acceptable bowling performance for bowlers probably needs to be re-assessed.
"We can't look at old statistics and say these are acceptable numbers. Maybe 300 is an acceptable score like 250 was acceptable in the past. Maybe with the new field restrictions and two-new balls, probably 300 is acceptable. I won't be that critical. Obviously they are young and they keep improving and keep getting better, especially with maybe the execution at the death. It is one area that I think we can improve a little bit but that will come with experience," he said.