'Tendulkar's feat will be unmatchable'
Milestone man Sachin Tendulkar became the most-capped Test cricketer in the world and former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds said the champion Indian batsman's feat will remain untouchable for years to come.
Tendulkar, who holds almost every batting record, overtook former Australian captain Steve Waugh's feat of 168 matches after taking the field in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Symonds, who is one of the commentators for this year's Champions League Twenty20, was of the view that the game will lose its charm without greats like Tendulkar, who is in the twilight of his career, and retired Muttiah Muralitharan.
"I doubt it very much that somebody can match Sachin's feat. Currently, there is probably Ponting, Boucher and Kallis who played a lot of Test cricket. They are probably the only three who can get near but I can't see anyone starting cricket now and playing 160-170 Test matches," the 35-year-old Australian said.
"The game obviously loses the players people love to pay and watch but the same thing happened with Australia. (Shane) Warne, (Glenn) McGrath and (Matthew) Hayden retired as well but someone comes in and takes their place in the team but, I mean, they can't become what these guys have been to the team," he said.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
'It gave me a lot more free time to enjoy life'
Symonds' chequered 11-year-old career with the Australian team was marred by off-field controversies, which eventually forced him to turn into a freelance cricketer last year. But the England-born Australian said he has no regrets about his decision as it gave him time to enjoy life.
"Definitely, it gave me a lot more free time to enjoy life and spend time with my family but still play cricket all over the world. So, I am very happy with my decision," he said.
"I don't regret my decision. The rules of the game were changing and I was not involved that much with the team. I was also not happy with environment of the team. At the end of it, I thought it was time. I don't miss the Australian team," he added.
Image: Andrew Symonds
T20 has revolutionized cricket
Presently, Symonds and Englishman Andrew Flintoff are just two examples of freelance cricketers but the Australian feels with time and money involved, more and more players could turn into part-time cricketers.
"Possibly, it may happen in future but it totally depends on an individual and his drive to play Test cricket. There is obviously a lot of financial gain but it all depends on a player's passion and love and desire for ODIs and Test cricket," he said.
He feels Twenty20 has revolutionised the game, and for Test cricket to survive the administrators need to strike a balance between all the three formats of the sport.
"Twenty20 cricket was never thought of when I first started playing for Australia. When I started playing cricket I wouldn't have believed it. But the game has revolutionized cricket. It has given cricket a huge shape," said the right-hander who played for the Deccan Chargers in the first three editions of the Indian Premier League.
"People around the game are responsible for the survival of Test cricket. Its up to them whether all the formats survive or not. People who run the game must look at the matter and make sure they get the balance right," Symonds said.
Image: Andrew Symonds
'Aus, SA teams should do pretty well'
Symonds has been roped in by ESPN Star Sports in its commentary panel for this year's Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa from September 10, and he feels the Australian and South African teams will hold an edge over others on the lively wickets there.
"We saw how well the IPL was received there. The South African people really enjoy the shorter version. So, I am hoping the grounds to be full and people come to watch these matches.
"The wickets are probably gonna be pretty fresh in South Africa at this time of the year. The ball should bounce and I am expecting pacy wickets. So, I think the Australian and South African teams should do pretty well," he said.
"But the two Indian teams are quality outfits as well with quality international players. It all makes for a good contest," added Symonds.
Image: Andrew Symonds