Sachin Tendulkar may never again be the dominant player he once was, according to former Test batsman Arun Lal.
Tendulkar has been working on his fitness in the gym
Tendulkar is hoping to be named in the squad for the forthcoming Test series in the West Indies.
But that may depend on the outcome of a check-up in London, where he underwent shoulder surgery two months ago.
"The writing is on the wall. He's been performing to expectation for the last 16 years and it's taken its toll, physically and mentally," said Lal.
He thinks Tendulkar may only have a couple of years left in international cricket but for the time being remains a key member of the Indian side.
"He represents a generation of cricketers who have done phenomenally well for India. With (Sourav) Ganguly not in the side, you really need Sachin there to provide stability.
"I believe for the next year, year and a half, he is essential to the Indian cause," Lal told BBC World Service Sport.
Tendulkar, who has scored more than 24,000 runs in 132 Tests and 362 limited overs internationals, has suffered a series of injury problems in the past couple of years.
But it is a similar situation to that affecting a number of players because of the hectic international schedule.
"Undoubtedly the stress level has increased over time. Most cricketers are now suffering from severe strain.
"The stakes are higher, there's a lot more to be earned, so in every aspect the pressure has gone up many, many fold from when I played, so there's bound to be burn-out of certain players," Lal commented.
"If the ICC does get together to limit it to a certain amount (of cricket), you never know what is going to be enough.
"Who's going to decide? Is it going to be decided by the fitness of a Sachin Tendulkar or the stresses on a Ricky Ponting? I don't think there's anybody qualified to decide," he added.
Tendulkar, meanwhile, will undergo a fitness test in Mumbai on Tuesday and then travel to London for a further consultation with his surgeon.
"There is a noticeable improvement in my shoulder," he said.
"Whether I'm going (to West Indies) or not going, I'm still going to meet him and figure out how I'm progressing.
"At this moment the goal is to get fit as early as possible."