KOLKATA: Overwhelmed by the emotional farewell given to Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Saturday lamented that he could not play on his home soil in his last Test.
Terming Tendulkar's farewell the most befitting, Ganguly said: "I'm very happy for him," but appeared a little upset as he added: "I could not play my last match at the Eden Gardens... Even, VVS Laxman was denied a farewell match (after his impromptu announcement)."
Ganguly, however, said he was happy to have retired with his head held high in the Nagpur Test against Australia in November 2008, which India won by 172 runs.
"I'm happy to have retired on a winning cause and with runs (85 in the first innings)..."
Asked whether the weak opposition such as the West Windies would rob some credit of Tendulkar's knock of 74, Ganguly said: "I don't think so."
"The love he was given by the people in Wankhede is unmatchable. He would not have got that had he retired in South Africa. One can experience the atmosphere only by being there at the Wankhede. It was a lifetime experience."
It was vintage Tendulkar in his swansong innings as the Mumbai 'boy' struck a charming 74 against the West Indies and Ganguly said it was the best knock of the iconic batsman in three years.
"He did not do well in the last two-three years. His last knock of 74 in his farewell innings was the best ever I've seen in last three years. It seemed as if he's relieved of the burden finally. He batted with the fluency of a youngster."
"It was the most satisfying moment for me as he left cricket on a high, with runs under his belt. I was really happy for him," Ganguly told a bengali news channel from Mumbai.
Tendulkar shed tears on his last day in Indian colours after the Test against the West Indies ended on Saturday and Ganguly said those were tears of joy.
"I never had seen him breaking down. Perhaps those were the tears of joy. He has achieved everything in his career. Life has come full circle twice for him. He has achieved thrice one can. There should not be any regrets in his life."
Having turned commentator, Ganguly too hoped that Tendulkar keeps himself occupied with the sport, maybe with commentary after his impressive impromptu speech on Saturday.
"Another facet was revealed today when he mesmerised everybody with his farewell speech. True that he wants to give his children the next 16 years of his life... But with the immense knowledge of the game that he has, I would like to see him associated with cricket," Ganguly said without indicating that Tendulkar should also come to commentary.
In a rare thanksgiving gesture, Tendulkar went back to the 22 yards at the Wankhede and prayed on it for almost a minute and Ganguly said the youngsters should learn from Tendulkar's modesty.
"With the gesture he showed the respect he still holds for the game. It was a clear message to the first class cricketers that no matter how big you become cricket will always remain bigger. It holds true for every field."
Ganguly further credited Tendulkar's wife Anjali for all the sacrifices she made for the maestro.
Agreeing to what Tendulkar said in his farewell speech, Ganguly said: "I always knew him as a romantic person... Of course, Anjali would remain his best 'partnership' as he said in the farewell speech... For the sacrifices she has made for Sachin for more than 20 years is remarkable. All credit should go to Anjali. It's not a matter of joke."
Ganguly also remembered Tendulkar as a doting father. "I remember how he carried Sara the whole night at the team hotel garden as she had some sleeping problems during a tour to New Zealand after being jet-lagged. He's always been a doting father."
As Tendulkar made a grand exit, there was also limelight on Arjun who made his 'debut' as a ball boy, something the senior Tendulkar did in the late 1980s before bursting into the scene.
Ganguly believed that Tendulkar with his sheer maturity would not let Arjun crumble to the media attention.
"With the surname attached to him, I understand that people would see him with a lot of expectation... I too want him to become the next Tendulkar. But I'm not sure.
"But I believe in Tendulkar's maturity. I'm sure he would guide his son the right way. They are a family of high values," Ganguly said.
Team India generation X in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara have shown a lot of promise but Ganguly said the journey of the rebirth of Indian cricket would only begin after the gruelling tour to South Africa.
"(Rohit) Sharma was a revelation in the series, the way he batted was a complete turnaround... The future in the hands of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara looks promising. But the rebirth of Indian cricket will take place beginning with the South Africa tour beginning next month," Ganguly signed off.