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‘Seniors shouldn’t quit in a bunch’

You don't want the top five players going at the same time. It happened with us in the early 90s, when we lost Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall, and I don't want this to happen to Indian cricket, says Brian Lara in an interview to The Indian Express.

With Sachin Tendulkar just 77 runs short of taking over from him as the highest scorer in Test cricket, former West Indies captain Brian Lara, in the city en route to Australia, wished his "good friend" luck, and hoped that he would get there in the first Test itself. With all the talk in India revolving around seniors and retirement plans, Lara, who will not be playing in the ICL this season, said it was important that the phasing out was gradual. Excerpts from an interview:

On Sourav Ganguly's retirement

 

I think any sportsman would like to go out on his terms. Sourav is a great servant of Indian cricket and has proved to be a great leader, especially away from home. I remember the series against Australia (2003) where his innings helped India draw at the Gabba. He has been a catalyst for change and upward mobility for Indian cricket. Any great player leaving will leave a gap but that also means an opportunity for a youngster.

On whether it's time for other seniors to go

 

I think it should be a gradual process. You don't want the top five players going at the same time. It happened with us in the early 90s, when we lost Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall, and I don't want this to happen to Indian cricket. India should be very careful about who goes - and when. I understand they want young blood but you don't want to expose them all at the same time.

On whether the board should have any right to negotiate players' retirement

 

Every player wants to retire on a high. I think every player deserves to go out when he wants and not when the board or selectors want. They have been performing for such a long time, it would be unfair for someone else to tell them when they should quit.

 

On if India are favourites in this series

 

You cannot take anything away from Australia. They are still the number one. What I do know is that they aren't as strong as they were 3-4 years ago. But you cannot take them lightly.

On whether India-Australia clashes are becoming bigger than the Ashes

 

The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is surely very huge but it will be wrong to compare it to the Ashes, that has a lot of history.

 

On Sachin closing in on his record for most Test runs

 

I wish Sachin all the very best. I hope he breaks it in Bangalore itself and continues scoring runs the way he's done throughout his career. I feel very proud to be in the same league as Gavaskar, Border and Tendulkar. We all have to appreciate what he has done. He is one of the greatest to have played the game.

 

On who he sees getting past Tendulkar

 

Ricky (Ponting) is a class player. I feel he is the only player currently who can break Sachin's record in the future.

 

Lara no longer with ICL

Brian Lara has confirmed he won't be part of the ICL. "If I'm heading to Australia, then how can I be with the ICL," asked Lara. ICL officials also confirmed Lara would not be a part of the league anymore. Last ICL season, there had been enough rumours about Lara wanting to opt out of the rebel league but being forced to stick to his commitments. The second edition of ICL is scheduled to begin on Friday. Asked if he would be opting for IPL, Lara said "I don't want to go much about ICL or IPL. Both are good for the game."

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