Kolkata: Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan on Monday said that the appropriate time for Sachin Tendulkar to retire was after India's 2011 world cup triumph.
"We all want to go with a big bang but you always don't get it right. For Sachin the ultimate time to go was after that World Cup win. He had such a great World Cup. He is a great player and there is not replacement for him," Imran said during an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN.
"He has to decide for himself and he must time it right. You don't want to go having lost to Australia 4-0. If he had gone after that world cup that would have been the ultimate high."
The former Pakistan captain also said that the Indian management should find the replacements for their senior players who had the right to decide on when to quit.
"It's a very difficult question for a sportsman to know when to leave...It's a very difficult decision and many great players have not got it right," he said. For Indian cricket it's not one player now but three or four would have to take decision. But the big question is whether you have got their replacement. If the gap between the young and old player is too much then you have to stay with the old players."
Imran also felt that it was not of much consequence whether Sachin Tendulkar got to his 100th international ton or not.
"Records must be broken within the team winning. You should not be playing to break records. Records should be part of the win. Sachin is a great player. Would I think of Sachin whether he is of 99 hundreds or 100 hundreds! No," Imran said.
"Greatest player I've played is Viv Richards. I don't need to look at his records. He is great because he loves challenges. Records are after all statistics and statistics did not matter to great players," he said.
The former allrounder also said that he would have quit international cricket had his team suffered back-to-back whitewashes in away series the way India had done.
"I would have retired from cricket. I think if I was in a team that lost eight matches in a row I would have given up cricket. It's not the West Indies of 80s. But see who India has lost to - Australia and England. This Australia team hardly has won any series. You can't blame the fans for feeling upset," he said.
Imran said if India gives too much emphasis on Twenty20 cricket and IPL then it might become the whipping boys in the five-day format.
"India needs to think seriously... have they put too much emphasis on IPL, T20 cricket. It's great entertainment but how to compare T20 with Test cricket. Test cricket is the ultimate test of the skills of a player. If India doesn't get the balance right, they are going to be just a walkover team in Test cricket, he said."
Imran was supportive of the idea of renewing Indo-Pak cricketing ties.
"We have deprived the sub-continent of the pleasure of an Indo-Pak cricket series. The highlight of the World Cup was the semi-final between Pakistan and India. Let's put our past behind and move on. It's time for new relationship and new era," he said.