New Delhi:Terming Sourav Ganguly's exit from international cricket as "unfortunate" and "sad", former hockey skipper Dhanraj Pillai on Friday said senior players in any sport deserved better treatment and respect from its countrymen.
Pillay was deeply "hurt" by the way Ganguly was treated as the episode reminded him of his own unceremonious exit from the Indian team.
"I feel really hurt when a senior player is treated like this. It is unfortunate. We have given our heart and soul for the game. Don't we deserve a better farewell," said Pillay.
"Senior player is next to coach. In our country people remember one bad performance and forget past nine good shows.
They constantly criticise you which is wrong. Same happened with me and now with Sourav. Despite playing well after the comeback, he was compelled to announce retirement. It is sad," he added.
"I have experienced this. I have been thrown out of the team when I was in-form and cent percent fit also. I had couple of years of international hockey left in me. I am still playing in domestic circle," said the mercurial striker, only Indian player to participate in four Olympics and same number of World Cups.
Drawing a parallel with his own post-retirement experience, Pillay said it will not be easy for Ganguly to cope up with the situation.
"I couldn't sleep for weeks and months in anger. I felt humiliated as they 'KPS Gill led IHF' didn't give me any reason that why I have been dropped. I thought that it is the end of my life," said Pillay, under whose captaincy India won Gold medal in Bangkok Asiad 1998.
Now a member of IOA-appointed selection panel, Pillay feels that age should not be the criteria while picking up the team.
"There should not be any kind of junior senior ratio.
Form and fitness not the age should be the criteria for the selection. If a player in his 30s is performing well than there is no reason not to pick him."
On the debate of voluntary retirement of senior cricketers, Dhanraj said seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman have done so much for the country that they should at least be given a better farewell.