Kolkata: Heaping lavish praise on Sachin Tendulkar, West Indies cricket great Brian Lara Sunday likened the batting legend to another legend, in boxing, Mohammad Ali.
"In terms of statistics, some may come close to him, but in sports there are some individuals who stand apart. When you talk of boxing, you talk of Mohammad Ali; when you mention basketball, you mention Michael Jordan; and when you talk cricket, you talk about Sachin Tendulkar," Lara said during a Cricket Association of Bengal-organised event here.
Lara also said Tendulkar had made the right decision to retire from international cricket after playing his 200th Test match at his home ground in Mumbai later this week.
"Sachin Tendulkar deserves the respect to decide when he wanted to leave the game. He has given yeoman service to the sport. Imagining that a player with 200 Tests was hard to imagine few years back but I believe he has picked the best opportunity to walk away from the game," said the former West Indies skipper.
Lara also refused to accept that Tendulkar dragged on his career and his decision to retire has come late.
"His performance in last couple of years may not have been great, but sitting here, we can`t judge the impact he has on the team. We need to speak to the players to know the impact he has on this young Indian team. Let`s not judge him on stats alone. There have been others who played beyond 40," said Lara often compared with Tendulkar to be the best batsman in the world.
Expressing deep disappointment at the way the Carribeans capitulated in the first Test match at the Eden Gardens against India, Lara hoped to see better cricket from the team in the Mumbai Test (Nov 14-18).
Lara blamed the West Indian cricket administrator for the current poor condition of the team which was once invincible.
"West Indies cricket has been in doldrums because the administrators never developed infrastructure. When the world was developing technology and infrastructure, we hoped that a Viv Richards or a Gary Sobers would come from nowhere.
"Our cricket will not grow unless the grassroots is sorted out, infrastructure is developed. There will always be stars but you need to nurture and develop the mediocre, you need infrastructure to do that," added Lara.