Kolkata:Age might be catching up with Sachin Tendulkar but former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels the Mumbai veteran is the best cricketer in the world right now and can continue as long as he wants.
The iconic left-hander said his 36-year-old former opening partner is a better batsman than him and can pick the time to call it quits.
"To be honest, he is a bigger player than I am. He deserves to go whenever he wants to. He is probably the best in the world with (the retired) Brian Lara. He can play until anytime he wants and I am sure his performance will remain consistent," Ganguly said in an interview on Friday.
Ganguly said he enjoyed partnering Tendulkar at the top and doesn't regret quitting earlier than him.
"We have enjoyed a lot together at the top of the order and contributed thousands of runs. But I have taken a decision to quit. So, there is nothing to regret. I am sure he would also take the decision (to call it quits) at some stage," the 37-year-old player said.
Tendulkar recently stated that he is aiming to accumulate 15,000 Test runs and also play in the 2011 World Cup. Ganguly said fitness permitting, the seasoned right-hander will accomplish the twin aims.
"Why not? If he is fit and looks after his body, he will keep getting runs. He just needs to look after his fitness and he will remain to be an asset to the team," he said.
Ganguly said players like Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid had been performing consistently over a period of time and would be an asset for the team at any stage of their careers.
"As long as he (Tendulkar) is fit, nobody can stop him performing. Players like him, Dravid and Kumble just can't stop performing at any stage of their career," he said.
"They have come here because they have performed consistently over a period of 12, 13, 15 and 20 years. That's why they are great players and would continue to perform," he added.
India would miss the services of opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan in the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka but Ganguly said Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men would still start favourites.
"India still is the team to beat among Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Sachin (Tendulkar) is back and hopefully Rahul will be back. We have the strength and combination to beat the other two teams," he said.
On his stand on the controversial WADA anti-doping clause that requires players to disclose there whereabouts even when they are not playing, Ganguly refused to comment.
"My job, time of thought in this is over. So, I don't want to comment on this.
"If I was a player, I would have thought about it. But I am not a player any more, so I would like to keep away from it. I don't want to give an opinion about something which I am not sure about", he said.
On his Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders' decision to sack coach John Buchanan, who criticised the entire team management after being ousted, Ganguly said the Australian was a thing of past for the side.
"For us at KKR, Buchanan is a story of the past. We have not played well last year and we need to get everything right.
We need to play good cricket and that's important, rest does not matter. It's a thing of the past," he said.
Asked what went wrong in the last season when Buchanan was at the helm, a seemingly annoyed Ganguly said, "I don't want to go back and think about what went wrong in the last season. I just don't want to talk about it."
"It happens in sport, it does not work at times. But as I said, it's past for us and we need to look forward," he added.
On the IPL season III, Ganguly said the team has set its sights on signing some former Indian Cricket League.
"We will decide shortly. It's just been announced yesterday that the ICL players can be a part of any franchise.
Like any other franchise, we will also try to get players. It depends, who has already signed up and who has not," he said.
"We have the Bengal ICL players in mind as well. As I said we are trying to make a better team and everybody will be seen," he added.
The IPL governing council has decided that an ex-ICL player would get a maximum of Rs 20 lakh which is seen to be a "raw deal" for the rebel cricketers but Ganguly said, "I am not a decision maker in that. The IPL committee and the BCCI are the decision makers in that. I should not be making a statement."
Ganguly, who played a mentor's role in KKR's just concluded pre-season training camp at Eden Gardens here, said he enjoyed the experience.
"It was not a question of donning a new role. I was just helping them out in the camp. We have not appointed a coach yet, so (trainer) Adrian (Le Rous), myself, (physio) Andrew (Leipus), (CEO) Joydeep (Bhattacharya), (team manager) Jaydip (Mukherjee), Jeet (Banerjee) we were all there, trying to help the boys get together and organise the net. Since we are yet to appoint a coach, we are all trying to work together to get the camp going."
Asked if there are any specific names that the team management is considering for the coach's job, Ganguly said there were several.
"I have got no idea. We have got a lot of people applying for the job. KKR has decided on a policy of selecting a coach and that will happen in due course. At the present moment, there are no names as such", he said.
"It's not just my plan. Cricket is a team sport and we all have to get together and make sure that the team gets an atmosphere where it performs well. Performance is important," Ganguly said.
"Besides, T20 is a different kind of a format altogether. It's not Test or one-day cricket where there is time. We want to create an atmosphere where we all enjoy it and still play freely and do well in this tournament."
On his plans after his contract with Knight Riders gets over in 2010, Ganguly said, "We will see then. Let's get past the third edition."
Knight Riders had a disastrous IPL II in South Africa, finishing last and the team was mired in controversies especially after Buchanan floated his multiple-captaincy theory.
The World Cup winning Australian was sacked immediately after the season with the post lying vacant till date.
The names of former India coach John Wright and Pakistan ex-coach Richard Pybus are doing the rounds for the position.