'Sherry' calls it a day
Navjot Singh Sidhu, popularly known as 'Sherry' announced his retirement from all forms of cricket at Chandigarh on Thursday. The gutsy opener from Punjab addressed a press conference at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) office and announced that he would not play any further cricket, not even exhibition matches. Sidhu said that his retirement was not provoked by any particular incident and that he had "no regrets."
Sidhu made his debut in international cricket in the third Test against the West Indies in Ahmedabad in November 1983. Since then he commanded the opening spot, though he was also comfortable at No 3, at which position he enjoyed a prolific run in the 1987 World Cup. In 51 Test matches, Sidhu made 3202 runs at an average of over 42. His 201 at Port of Spain against the West Indies in 1997 will be remembered for a long time to come. The innings against the bowling of Walsh and Ambrose was a testimony to his guts and determination. In the shorter version of the game he made 4413 runs at an average of close to 40. Sidhu remembers his 134 scored against England at Gwalior on March 24, 1993, an innings he recalled as his greatest moment in cricket.
Sidhu was noncommittal when asked about the many controversies that plagued his career. He returned from India's 1996 tour of England after a misunderstanding with the then captain Mohammad Azharuddin. He said that he "would like to bury the past, there is no ill will against anyone, Azhar is a good cricketer" and that he would like to "carry the burden of the misunderstanding rather than blame anyone." This attitude typified Sidhu's approach to the game. When asked about his future plans, Sidhu said that he rarely thought about the past or the future. However he added that he would like to whatever he could to "uplift the cricket of youngsters" in the country.
Sidhu was easily India's most consistent and stable opener after Sunil Gavaskar. A forthright man, Sidhu was well liked by fans wherever he toured. In closing, Sidhu said that playing for India was the "greatest honour." He also thanked the PCA and the Board of Control for Cricket in India for everything they had done for him. Sidhu dedicated his lifetime achievement in cricket to his father.
If the Indian cricket administration is wise, it will salute Sidhu and draw from his vast experience in some way. How Sidhu will stay in touch with the game to which he gave so much remains to be seen.