Sourav Ganguly said that there was nothing alarming about Sachin Tendulkar’s recent dismissals in the two-Test series against New Zealand, and added that he should continue to focus on Test cricket.

Speaking at the fourth Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture on ‘The Effect of T20 on Test cricket’, the flamboyant left-hander, one of India’s most successful Test captains, said: “Tendulkar getting bowled is nothing new; he has been dismissed this way even at his peak.

“We should not forget that he is getting older. I notice that he is moving well, and his fitness and hunger for the game persists. He knows more about his game than all of us.”

“Having known Sachin for such a long time, I would like to believe that a return to form will happen.”

Asked about the negative effects of T20 on Test cricket, he spoke of the importance of adjustment.

“Look at Kevin Pietersen or Jacques Kallis. They play all three formats and adjust in order to be effective. When Sachin started to open in T20, he worked out a way to adjust his batting,” he said.

Ganguly also spoke of how playing all three forms could be helpful to players.

“I have always noted that Sachin uses the shorter format of the game to stay in form for Tests. At the start of the season, I believe such a stint will help,” he said.

A long acquaintance

Ganguly recalled that his acquaintance with Tendulkar went back to 1987 when both turned out for the MRF Pace Foundation trials.

“Sachin shared a room with me, I didn’t even know him. Both were trying to become fast bowlers and after watching us bowl a few deliveries to loosen up, Dennis Lillee advised me to try batting. Sachin too was told the same thing,” he said.

“Lillee told both to pad up — there was a shortage of batsmen at the trials to select pace bowlers — and, at that young age, we tried to please the coach by following his advise,” he recalled, agreeing with moderator Harsha Bhogle’s observation that Lillee had an eye for batsmen.

“Lillee certainly had an eye for Tendulkar, don’t know about me,” he quipped.

While he termed the IPL the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket — as it could potentially earn First Class cricketers financial security — Ganguly was emphatic that performing in Test cricket would remain the ultimate achievement.

“There is talk about money in T20 for youngsters playing the IPL. The best Test cricketers earn much more.

“The satisfaction of performing in Tests and the respect one earns on the strength of Test success is unmatched,” he said.

He pointed out that performances overseas was the sign of greatness, noting the late Dilip Sardesai’s ability to amass runs in the West Indies and England in 1970s.

“Batting without helmets, he took on pace attacks in the West Indies and then against England — that’s something to be proud of as an Indian Test player.”

Rajdeep Sardesai, son of the former Mumbai and India Test batsman, in his vote of thanks, said he felt the ease with which Ganguly had adapted to cricket television commentary after retirement as the reason for his continued popularity.

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