''He has a couple of years left in him, maybe even another World Cup. He is a special player,'' Brian Lara said of his close friend in the course of an extended farewell press conference as a West Indies captain and cricketer.
When Lara was asked, at a time he was quitting the game, what could he tell Sachin, his reply was crisp and clear: ''He (Sachin) knows what he has to do. He is an outstanding cricketer and a wonderful person off the field. What can I say to him at this point, really?'' ''Like me he had a disappointing World Cup, but I think he knows best what he has to do,'' he added.
In fact India cropped up several times in the course of his near an hour-long media conference in a stiflingly hot room, with daughter Sydney sitting in as well. ''Over the years many cricketers have brought me a lot of joy, friends like Sachin among others.'' ''Rahul Dravid is one player I could go and watch. Come to think of it, if I wanted someone batting for my life, it would be Rahul.
Then there people like Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, guys like Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, with whom I've found great joy in batting,'' the legend said.
''Among the bowlers, Wasim Akram was possibly the most outstanding quicky I ever faced and among the spinners, it has to be Shane Warne. I never had a problem playing him but he was always there, you never knew what would happen while facing him. Yes, there are some great memories,'' Lara added.
He returned to India soon thereafter, saying, ''The last time I was in India, there was a fan waiting for us, just crying because he would not see me play again. I remember places like Cuttack, playing there in West Indies colours, for what it meant to be a West Indian cricketer,'' he remarked in a different context.
''And look at the way Indian fans have come out to support this World Cup. India losing so early on and going home was a big setback for the tournament, that much is evident from talking to the people involved,'' the 37-yaer-old bating maestro said.
''Yet there are so many friends from India who have still come here, hired villas and stayed on to watch us and the other teams.
We always knew holding a World Cup here would not be easy. It never is, be it a cricket World Cup or a football World Cup.'' ''We always knew there would be problems. But overall, it's been a great experience and I'm only sorry we could not do any better for not just our fans here, but those around the world,'' Lara said.