‘Ponting retiring doesn’t mean Sachin also has to quit’

Following Ricky Ponting's decision to retire after the Perth Test against South Africa, calls for Sachin Tendulkar to end his international career have grown in volume. India opener Gautam Gambhir, however, has spoken up for his teammate.

"Nobody can force anyone to retire. Each individual knows when is the best time to retire. Ponting retiring doesn't mean that Sachin also has to quit now. It's an individual decision. They are from two different countries, (and are) two different individuals. So there is no question of a comparison," Gambhir said.

Ponting made his announcement after he had made scores of 0, 4 and 16 in the first two Tests against South Africa. He said that his contribution in the series "hasn't been what I expect of myself and it certainly hadn't been to the level that I feel is required for batsmen and players in the Australian team."

Tendulkar, 20 months older than Ponting, hasn't crossed 30 in his last 10 Test innings. But Gambhir said that the 39-year-old still had plenty to offer Indian cricket.

"His presence in the dressing room itself is a big thing for the country. I am sure he will come out of it. Everybody goes through ups and downs. It's the sheer joy of playing the game, he loves playing," Gambhir said. "He is the greatest cricketer India has produced. Not just on the field, as a mentor he contributes off the field too. He still has the capability to make lots of runs for India."

Gambhir was full of praise for Ponting, as a batsman and as a captain.

"He is a legend of the game. He has played cricket on his own terms; he is retiring on his own terms," he said. "His record in all three formats speaks for itself. He has been Australia's most successful captain ever."

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