Sachin Tendulkar deserves to play 200 Tests after dedicating more than 20 years of his life to the game, says Brett Lee

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There is no doubt in Lee’s mind that Tendulkar will be drafted into the Hall of Fame almost immediately after he retires

Former Australia pace bowler Brett Lee has announced that Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar deserves to play 200 Test matches after having dedicated more than 20 years of his life to the game.

Over the past few months, there have been mounting calls from the media and ex-players for Tendulkar to quit, however, Lee recently lashed out at them, stating that the ‘Little Master’ should be allowed to retire on his “own terms”.

“There is a lot of media saying he should move on, he should stand down,” Lee said. “(But) I believe if he keeps scoring runs and he keeps batting well, then he should be able to go (out) on his own terms. I think it is only fair.

“If a guy has played for over 20 years of international cricket, he deserves the right to play his 200th Test match. Hopefully, he does get his 200th Test match, because I can’t see it ever being achieved again.”

Tendulkar, who made his debut in 1989, has played 198 Tests as of right now and will have to wait until the end of the year when India tour South Africa for a three-Test series.

Lee noted that it was amazing how Tendulkar had managed to keep fit for 24 years and still be playing cricket in his forties.

“He is a legend,” Lee said. “He is a little master with all due respect with 198 Test matches to his credit. He is the most prolific run scorer in the world… I am not trying to say one (Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar) is better than the other, but he certainly is right up there. He has been a hero of mine while growing up.

“He is like a good bottle of red wine that keeps getting better with age. He is a wonderful guy, a great role model around the world. He is loved in Australia. I would love to see him play more but it is upto the great man to say when he wants to hang his boots up.”

Talking about the upcoming Champions Trophy in England next month, Lee backed his home side and India to do well in the tournament.

“I would never bet against Australia,” Lee added. “I still think they are a great side. India would be very tough to beat too.

“We obviously enjoyed playing Champions Trophy. It’s a tournament that everyone looks forward to. It’s a prestigious tournament and it’s one that you do want to be a part of and also want to try and win it. We had some success in the past.”

However, Lee also fears for the future of 50-over cricket, saying that the boost in popularity for Twenty20 cricket is having a negative impact on ODIs.

“Unfortunately the one other format of the game that is slipping away is the 50-over cricket which I feel sad about because I always enjoyed playing 50-over cricket,” he said. “It’s a lot different from T20 because it’s a bit more strategic.

“I do hope for world cricket that 50-over cricket isn’t lost. It appears that it is dying its slow death, obviously being taken over by T20 cricket and I want to make sure Test cricket is very healthy as well.”

While Australia captain Michael Clarke and many of the other Australian players have refused to admit that the 4-0 whitewashing they suffered at the hands of India earlier this year has undermined their confidence ahead of the back-to-back Ashes series, Lee believes that they are putting on their strong faces for the media, but deep down, they must feel less confident.

“I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t affect their confidence leading upto that series, the Ashes,” Lee said. “Australia will have to do a lot of work before they go to England. I would never bet against Australia. If they hit the right team, the right set-up, right structure in place then they can be successful.”

According to the pace maestro, the two most competitive series in his opinion are India v Australia and the Ashes.

“We obviously now consider playing against India and the Ashes as the two biggest tournaments,” he said. “It used to always be the Ashes. We all now think that playing against India in India is a tough tournament that we want to win. We haven’t had a lot of success over here on these wickets.

“You have got to give full credit to India, their preparation is outstanding. The way they play from team point of view is sound.”

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