NEW DELHI // Sachin Tendulkar has said he is not ready to hang up his boots yet, amid growing speculation that the Indian batsman should retire after he achieved a long-awaited 100th international century.
"I still get goose bumps as I stand with my teammates when the national anthem is on. I still feel the same passion when I pick up my bat and go out," Tendulkar said in an interview with India's Open magazine.
Tendulkar, who set a new record in his glittering two-decade career by completing an unprecedented century of centuries during the recent Asia Cup, said he would quit only when he felt "a little less passion" for the game.
"Critics haven't taught me my cricket and they don't know what my body and mind are up to. I can tell you that the day I feel a little less passion when I walk out to bat for India, I'll give up the game.
"Critics don't need to tell me to do so. I will come to them and say 'my time is up'. Till then, I'd not bother about these opinions."
India's cricket greats, including former captain Kapil Dev, talked about Tendulkar's retirement last month, at least from one-dayers, to prolong his Test career.
Dev said that it was time to ponder hard choices for Tendulkar.
"Maybe his time has come," Kapil said. "Every player has his time. Age is not on his side as it was earlier."
But Tendulkar, the world's leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket, told Open magazine: "Retirement isn't something I am thinking about."
When asked whether he thought of quitting one-day cricket after India's World Cup triumph last year, the master batsman said "such a thought had never occurred" to him.
"A number of my friends have also asked me why I didn't retire from one-day cricket after winning the World Cup, they may well be right. It would indeed have been a grand exit," said Tendulkar, who turns 39 next month.
"But... my retirement was a non-issue, really. The World Cup was about India and I had no right to make it an event of my own.
"Had I announced my retirement soon after winning the trophy, the focus would have shifted from the Cup triumph to my retirement."
Tendulkar conceded that his 100th international hundred, against Bangladesh in Dhaka on March 16, was the most difficult.
"The hundredth 100 was the most difficult to get. I really don't know why, but it was," said Tendulkar, who now has 51 centuries in Tests and 49 in one-day internationals.
"Maybe because it had turned into a national obsession. Maybe because I wasn't able to escape talk of the hundredth 100 and it was affecting me at a subconscious level. Maybe God was trying me harder."
Tendulkar took more than a year to achieve the milestone. His 99th international ton came against South Africa in the World Cup at Nagpur on March 12 last year.