HYDERABAD: VVS Laxman, who won many a match for India with his wristy elegance including an epic 281 against Australia in Kolkata, today announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, bringing down the curtains on a glorious career spanning 16 years.
The 37-year-old Laxman, one of the finest batsmen in contemporary cricket, said that he listened to his “inner voice" while taking the decision to bid adieu to the game which he
played with “great pride for the country”.
“I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect. I think it's the right time to move on”, an emotional Laxman told a press conference here.
But what came as a surprise was his decision to quit the game with immediate effect despite being picked in the Indian squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand beginning here from August 23.
He chose not to take the opportunity to bow out of international cricket in front of his home crowd in Hyderabad, for whom he will continue to play Ranji trophy till the end of the year.
“It was a tough decision to take, I have always listened to my inner conscience. The inner voice is a divine voice, I have always done that right through my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. I felt this is the right time to move on”, he said.
Laxman, who earned the sobriquet 'Very Very Special' for his style and flair, played 134 Tests, amassing 8,781 runs at an average of 45.97. He scored 17 hundreds and 56 half centuries in the longer format of the game.
Laxman, who was not a regular in India's ODI team, played 6 matches for an aggregate of 2338 at an average of 30.76. Unfortunately for him, he could never be a part of India's World Cup campaigns which remains one of his biggest regrets.
“I have always kept my country's success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love contributing to the team's success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right time to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments”, Laxman said.
“Till last night I was unable to make up my mind, but in the end I listened to my inner voice and arrived at my decision to retire. I informed the chairman of selectors (Krishnamachari Srikkanth) this morning that I would not continue playing for India. I also spoke to many of my teammates, they were surprised that I was retiring before the series. It was all very emotional, he said.
Laxman said the selectors as well as the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) president agreed to his decision reluctantly. “They did accept my decision with great reluctance.”
“It was a dream for me to play for India since childhood and I am extremely thankful to the Almighty for giving me the opportunity to serve my country.”
"I always felt that through cricket I got an opportunity to serve my country. I was fortunate to play in an era when India played some of its best cricket, home as well as away. I would like to thank everyone who guided me and encouraged me
through my career.”
Laxman will always be remembered for the magnificent 281 he scored against Australia at the Eden Gardens in March 2001 -- an innings which didn't just change the face of the match but also turned the entire series on its head.
That knock was ranked sixth in Wisden's list of 100 great Test innings in the history of the game. It was just one of the several match-winning knocks that the unassuming batsman played against the mighty Aussies at their peak.
“When I remember that knock, I feel how lucky I was to be part of history. How we changed the result of that match. It is always emotional when I think of that knock”, he said.