India news October 16, 2013

Agarkar retires from all cricket

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ajit Agarkar, the former India seamer, has announced his retirement from all competitive cricket. Agarkar had led Mumbai, for whom he played all his Ranji Trophy cricket, to the domestic first-class title in the 2012-13 season. He played 110 first-class games in all, taking 299 wickets at 30.69, as well as 270 List A games and 62 T20s in a career that began in 1996-97.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Agarkar said, given how balanced the Mumbai team is at the moment, he decided it was the right time to go. "It was the right time for me. One more season was not going to change much. It could only have meant I would have been around for one more season and one of the youngsters would have been benched for Mumbai.

"I don't have a chance to play for India [again], so I thought it was the right time. Moreover, it's not a young [Mumbai] team anymore. It's a well-balanced unit and I feel it was time to let the younger lot carry the mantle."

Agarkar's decision caught everyone at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), including the selection panel, by surprise. Sudhir Naik, Mumbai's chairman of selectors, said that he and his panel were set to appoint Agarkar as the captain for the forthcoming domestic season. "It is a surprise to us. Today we had a selection committee meeting where practically we had decided to appoint him as the captain," Naik said. "But before the meeting commenced, we were told he had informed the MCA that he was retiring." Zaheer Khan was later named the captain for Mumbai's Ranji season opener.

In the last few years Agarkar failed to play consistently as recurring injuries force him to sit out. However when he was fit, Agarkar played.

"He was a typical Mumbai player. He could bring out his best and win the critical sessions," Pravin Amre, the former Mumbai coach, said. According to Amre, one of Agarkar's finest hours was in Mysore in 2009, when his aggressive burst of fast bowling denied Karnataka the Ranji Trophy. It was one of the most thrilling first-class matches in India's domestic cricket, when Karnataka nearly chased down 338. Manish Pandey had completed an aggressive and fluent century. Karnataka were marching quickly towards the title, backed by a vociferous home crowd. But a charged up Agarkar, angered by a verbal exchange with an opposition player, bowled with fierce intensity to clinch a five-for and snatch control back for Mumbai.

"His five-for in the second innings was memorable. It was such a tight game but he stood strong to snatch that final wicket," Amre said. "A close appeal was not given but that really fired him up, and the rest of the team which was behind him.

"He always valued the Mumbai cap. His intensity was always high against a tough opponent."

In all, Agarkar was part of eight Ranji Trophy winning sides in his 16-year career. Agarkar was named Mumbai captain last year, following a small controversy. In November 2011, Agarkar had left the team in Cuttack as he was disappointed at not being picked in the XI for a match against Orissa. He consequently withdrew from the squad for the entire 2011-12 Ranji season, before reconciling with the Mumbai association and taking charge for the domestic one-day competition, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, in February 2012. Prior to the start of the following season, he was named first-class captain as well.

Agarkar's international career ran from 1998 to 2007, during which he featured in 26 Tests, 191 ODIs and four Twenty20 internationals. He was off to a flying start in one-day internationals, breaking the then record for the fastest to 50 wickets. He helped India complete a historic win - their first Test match victory in Australia in 23 years - in Adelaide in 2003, with a second-innings six-wicket haul. Despite those infamous five Test ducks in a row against Australia in 1999-2000, Agarkar was also handy with the bat - he has a century at Lord's to his name, which he scored during India's 2002 tour of England. He scored a fifty off 21 balls in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Rajkot in 2000, which remains the fastest one-day fifty by an Indian.

Speaking about Agarkar's retirement, BCCI president N Srinivasan said in a release: "Ajit Agarkar served India with distinction for nearly a decade. On behalf of the BCCI, I congratulate him on a fine career, and wish him all the best for the future."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Reji on October 19, 2013, 4:23 GMT

    Agarkar, what a talent. maybe years from now we may come to know of the true story of what happened to this potential and why India was not able to groom this talent to the tilt. to be dropped off the international team when you are at 28 supposedly one of the fittest periods of a bowler and not having a chance there on points to some intrinsic flaws in our grooming of talent. Somehow after Kapil we just have not been able to groom a talent for an all rounder slot and this chap surely had the chops. Fast bowling is a tough art and i hope India learns to groom its pacers rather than wasting time on theories that chaps like ishant due to their height will be match winners. height cant ever compensate for heart and agarkar had a lot of heart. wishing him the best in all the endeavors for his future.

  • Patturaja on October 18, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    i am an agarkar fan since 1998. those teenage days...! I can never become a fan of any other cricketer in my life...! My dream allrounder...! Yes it ended as dream only...! But loved his every action on the field...!

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    I really feel very sad bcos he was the only indian bowler whom i enjoyed bowling. What an action,140+ & so easy on eyes. He was a genine wicket taker with agressive mentality & never believed in containment. He was in 'Allan donald mould' who once famously said: i would have figures of 10-0-60-4 rather than 10-4-29-0. He believed in taking wickets which every bowler should do.In hind sight i suppose he was'nt handled well bcos he was a confidence player. Alas he never had full backing of his skippers & india lost a genine allrounder.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    Well an anticlimax for what could have been a glorious career. I remember when i was 16 when this young agarkar poster came in sportstar magazine. He was an allrounder with neat bowling action & handy with the bat. He was tipped to b next Kapil dev. Frequent injuries & bad management of his then skippers[azhar & ganguly] played havoc with his career. Well he was inconsistent sometimes & his dark hour came in 1999 world cup when he was dropped after defeat to australia. And then advent of zaheer & nehra in 2000 with ganguly's penchant for left arm seamers drilled the final nail in the coffin. He did enjoy faith of dravid & chappel which helped him play 2007 world cup but that was it. I think it was a potential career which took of only to crash land.Tht's why i am happy for rohit sharma bcos if not for selectors & captain's backing, v would have lost too him in wilderness.

  • Hari on October 18, 2013, 9:01 GMT

    Still one of my favorite cricketers who lost out to back office politics and was grossly mismanaged.. He probably would have been the ideal number 8 batsman and an wicket taking medium pace bowler plus a very athletic fielder. Imagine he played only 26 tests and had a ODI strike rate of 32.9 @ 5.07 for 288 wickets across 190 odd ODIs... He could have been a permanent fixture in our one day team and overseas test teams. Love you Ajit Agarkar and will miss you

  • Mohit on October 18, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    He was my first favorite bowler. He had a lovely bowling action. I used to imitate him. He had the best throwing arm in the world. He had a great strike rate in ODIs. He was a handy batsman too. I will miss him...good memories Agarkar...

  • Naresh on October 18, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    Some brief flashes of brillance by Agarkar whilst he played for India. Dont know where he went wrong......Anyway Best of luck. At least you made for your exclusion from Indian team by playing domestic.

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    He is a genuine wicket taking bowler. His fielding was amzing.He had not done justice to his batting with the exception of a couple of knocks. Great talent that was not used properly. He could have become a very good all rounder.

  • Gangadhar on October 17, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    One of the best fast bowler for India. Agarkar is the bowler who started bowling with speed 140+ for india. It was always good to see his flat throw's from boundary line. Thank's alot for ur services to india and entertaining us for so long yrs.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    In a country dominated with batsmen and spinners, he performed consistently through out his career. He was a wicket taker, and bowled like one. Fastest 50 wickets, century at lords, 'that' five for in sydney, captain of Ranji winning Mumbai team, and served India for a long long time... any bowler would take. Its not easy being a fast bowler in India, and was definitely not easy for Ajit too, but then I would say he did a pretty good job. He may not be one of the best bowlers in the world, but yes he is definitely one of my favorites in the world!