Decides to declare on 499 June 2, 2004

Utpal Chatterjee announces his retirement

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Utpal Chatterjee: the final call in a 20-year career © Cricinfo

Utpal Chatterjee, the former Indian left-arm spinner, has announced his retirement from first-class cricket. Chatterjee chose to quit when on a high, having had a good few seasons with Bengal and East Zone. "It's a point I considered," Chatterjee told The Telegraph, a Kolkata-based daily "I didn't want others to tell me that it's time I quit."

Chatterjee, 40, made his India one-day debut nearly ten years back, in the Asia Cup in 1995, but lasted just two more matches. A statistic that Chatterjee will forever be associated with is ending with 499 first-class wickets. "It's like declaring an innings while someone is batting on 499, isn't it," he said, but added, "Figures don't matter. I was not feeling like going through all the hardship just for the sake of one wicket."

Chatterjee, who made his first-class debut way back in the 1984-85 season, touched peak form in 1999-2000 with 52 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, a record for Bengal. His last first-class game was in the Duleep Trophy final last season at Mohali, and his teasing spell in the second innings, when he took 4 for 63, got East Zone back into the match which they eventually lost to North Zone by 59 runs.

More importantly, Chatterjee spoke about the lack of motivation that had triggered off his decision to step down. "It's just that the mind doesn't want it anymore. The body isn't complaining, but there is no motivation left. I don't think it's wise to continue in this frame of mind."

Yet, he didn't rule out the possibility of being associated with cricket in some capacity. "It's not possible for me to completely detach myself from the game. If authorities want, I can do some coaching."

Nicknamed 'David' early in his career, after Alan Davidson, since he began as a left-arm seam bowler, Chatterjee made his first-class debut in 1984-85. However, he cemented his place in the side only in 1989-90, and was part of the Bengal team that lifted the Ranji Trophy that season at the Eden Gardens.

When asked about his most memorable moment, his response was slightly unexpected. "I don't know, if I have to pick one I will probably talk about today. This is certainly a remarkable day because I had to take such an important decision."