Form is temporary, class is permanent: Lara

Published: Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:West Indian great Brian Lara backed Sachin Tendulkar to overcome injuries and bad form, saying the Indian was a peerless batsman with a lot more to offer.

Lara, Test cricket's leading scorer with 11,294 runs, regarded Tendulkar the best batsman he ever watched despite the prolific success of Australian captain Ricky Ponting and South African Jacques Kallis.

"For me the best batsman in the world is Sachin Tendulkar," Lara told reporters during a private visit to India.

"I admire Jacques Kallis' consistency and Ricky Ponting with the purple patch he is going through.

"Everybody gets 15 minutes of fame. But if there is one person I have admired for a 15-year period, it's definitely Sachin."

Tendulkar, who has scored a record 35 Test and 39 One-day centuries in a remarkable 17-year-career, is currently recuperating in London following a shoulder surgery last month.

Tendulkar has battled toe, back and elbow injuries over the last few years and suffered a dip in batting form since December, raising fears his long career was nearing its end.

Lara, however, was not willing to write off Tendulkar, who turns 33 later this month.

"Form is temporary, class is permanent," said the 36-year-old.

"I don't know what pressures Sachin is facing. Now, it is a down period for him in terms of runs but he can get over it.

"I have faced criticism myself and I am sure this is not the first time people are criticising Sachin. He is strong enough to handle this criticism.

"Had he not been strong enough he would not be where he is today.

"Sachin is outstanding, he is an icon. He is someone who has done unbelievable things on the cricket field, someone we should all appreciate."

Tendulkar, whose 10,469 Test runs put him in fourth place behind Lara and Australians Allan Border and Steve Waugh, has not scored a half-century in his last 11 Test innings.

He was jeered off the field in his home city of Mumbai after making one and 34 in the final Test against England last month which the tourists won to square the series 1-1.

Lara was sure Tendulkar would bounce back, just as he did on a tour of Australia two seasons ago.

"I remember how in Australia Sachin got practically nothing in the first three Tests," he said.

"And then in the fourth Test he scored one of the best double-centuries one can hope to see.... It was exceptional."

Tendulkar remains doubtful for next month's tour of the West Indies, but is expected to be available for the Champions Trophy One-day tournament in India in October.

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