New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar's failure in the recent series against New Zealand may have triggered a debate on whether he should retire now but West Indian batting great Brian Lara reckons the Indian batsman still has a "year or two" of cricket left in him.
"I know he has already exited from the Twenty20 version of the game, I am not sure if he is still playing the 50 over game but may be another year or two in the Test cricket left in him ... may be still define himself at the top of scoring the most runs in both the Test and One Day Internationals," Lara said.
The former West Indies captain, who started his international career a year after his Indian contemporary, said that Tendulkar has been phenomenal and would be missed by the cricket world whenever he decides to hang his boots.
"I think he (Tendulkar) has done a wonderful job.
Somebody who started playing cricket, I am not sure whether he was 15 or 16, and he is still there. So he started may be a year or two before myself and has gone on to play five years after I have done", he told a news channel.
"I think he is approaching 25 years of international cricket, that is something all Indians should be proud of, not just Sachin," the veteran of 131 Test matches said.
Lara, who has 11,953 Test runs to his credit including a record unbeaten 400 against England, added that Tendulkar is way apart in class and ability.
"We know he had a few injuries and to be able to play that length of time and stay at the top of the pile in runs, in just class and sheer ability, I think he has done a tremendous job and world cricket is gonna miss someone like that when he leaves," he said.
The 43-year-old Lara, who has often been rated at par with the Indian maestro, hailed Tendulkar as a thorough gentleman and someone the world cricket would be proud of.
"I think he has done a tremendous job and I have only praise for someone like that. I have played with him on a few occasions and played against him, I think he has been a gentleman and the one world cricket should be proud of," Lara said.
He also appreciated Mahendra Singh Dhoni's skills as a leader and insisted that the Indian skipper should be allowed to decide his future.
"In last four-five years he has done remarkable job as Indian captain. I know questions are being asked of him but only he knows when he has to go. No captain wants to be sacked. So we should allow him to decide his future," said Lara, who has 299 ODI's to his credit.
Asked about the ongoing World T20 in Sri Lanka and whom he thought as the favourite to win the championship, Lara said, "Who else other than the three big boys of Asia."
"Pakistan is a terrific team. I saw the match they beat India in practice. Sri lanka is very dangerous team and also India. Any one of them on a given day is good," he pointed.
Lara, however, mentioned that the West Indies were also "worthy favourites" if they played as a unit.
"West Indies is a very good team, but they are good in pieces. They have best batsman, best bowlers and best all-rounders, but they need to perform collectively. As a group they are really dangerous and we are worthy favourites," he said.
Lara also approved of the shortest format of the game saying the sport needs it right now.
"T20 is a very interesting format. Cricket needs it right now. We have seen so many exciting players in this format. I would also love to play it, but now I'm enjoying as a spectator," the left-handed batsman insisted.
Lara, meanwhile, said that he left the sport to make way for the youngsters but was pained at the way the cricketers from his country were shaping up.
"I left cricket not because I was not enjoying it but because I thought West Indies needed young players to lead them.
"I only see them with their headphones on when they sit in the bus and go to the stadium or hotel. We used to watch great players like Sobers, Sir Viv etc and that is how we could evolve ourselves. I want to see that thing in current players also," the West Indian said.