Ajit Agarkar retires October 16, 2013

'I have followed the tradition of Mumbai cricket'

  shares 21

ESPNcricinfo spoke to former India and Mumbai fast bowler Ajit Agarkar soon after he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket

How do you feel after announcing the decision?
Relieved, now that I have made the decision. It was a tough decision; it wasn't easy to let go of something that you have been passionately doing all these years.

Why retire now?
Why not? I've thought about it. It's not like I decided about it yesterday. You have to be at peak of your fitness and motivated enough to last a full season.

But the Mumbai selectors were set to name you as captain for yet another season …
It's ok. I should be as motivated as others. 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, 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.

Are you moving away from the trend set by players who continue playing, or move to other states as professionals towards the latter stages of their careers?
I have been primarily playing for last six years only to groom youngsters. How many fast bowlers would have continued to play for six years after playing their last international game? The only purpose to continue playing once I realised I was not going to play for India again was to pass on my experience to youngsters. That is the tradition of Mumbai cricket and I have followed it.

Was there a particular moment that made you realise it was time to go?
When we won the final last year. It was a long, hard season. I was mentally and physically drained and thought I should hang up my boots. Then I thought I would give myself the off-season before taking the call. I was still training. I wanted to check if I was ready for yet another hard season. When you come closer to the season, you start getting excited about it. But I knew it was getting harder for me to be right up there. I still gave it a try but when I realised the body wasn't responding - physically and emotionally - there was no point continuing with it.

Weren't you tempted to reach 300 first-class wickets and play with Sachin Tendulkar one last time?
What will that do? When I started last year's final, I knew I was on 295. That was the first time I actually knew about my stats. I still stopped bowling after taking three wickets in the first six overs. If those landmarks were to happen, they would have happened last season. Had it been a landmark in international cricket, maybe I would have thought about it. But Dhawal (Kulkarni) needs a five-for more than me now.

The last three-four seasons had been stop-start for you. Has there been too much of wear and tear on the body to continue playing?
I am in my thirties. It's hard even for a young bowler who is at his peak. The conditions, the travelling, it all takes a lot out of you. It's a reality that every professional cricketer has to deal with it. When you have to bowl 30 to 40 overs, travel for a day and then take the field again in a couple of days and keep on doing it every week, it's tough.

To continue playing IPL would obviously have been tempting for you?
Not at all. IPL is a fantastic tournament, no doubt. Even for a player like me, it presents an opportunity to play with and against quality international cricketers. Also, financially it's very rewarding. However, since I haven't played international cricket for the last five years, I would anyway be an uncapped cricketer. Still, there was no consideration to give it a go only for financial reasons. If I had to continue playing, I would have continued playing all forms of the same.

How would you sum up the whole journey?
Fantastic. I have absolutely no complaints. To have collected almost 350 international wickets was an absolute privilege. So was scoring a Test century. I was fortunate to have my name in the list of honours at two of the most special venues in international cricket, Lord's and Adelaide Oval. Won seven Ranji titles with Mumbai. You always want more but you don't get it. Very happy. I could actually finish after winning a Ranji title. That is how it had started, so very happy that it culminated in the same way.

What next now?
I don't know. It's taken a while for the decision to be made. But now that I have done it, I want to enjoy it as much as I can. Obviously it would be good if I can stay connected with the game in some form. But for now, I just need to enjoy myself and spend a lot of quality time with my family and friends.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sreerang on October 17, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    Thank you Ajit, for some lovely memories. Wish you all the best in the future. One distinct memory is when Agarkar bowled a perfect yorker to Atapattu, albeit a slower one and Atapattu played all over it, completely clueless and the stumps shattered. Have never seen another delivery like that from anybody.

  • Unmesh_cric on October 16, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    What a selfless cricketer! He is going out at the right time and for the right reasons. Also, in this age where every cricketer is looking for financial rewards through IPL, he is not tempted..he knows that he has contributed Mumbai and India team whatever he could. He is going out as satisfied man. Kudos and hats off!

  • on October 17, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    I can't forget the ball you bowled to alister champell of Zimbabwe in a test where his off stump goes over his head. the glory to Ian bell. Chris Gayle's dangerous customer. Always a nightmare to Sri Lanka. Fastest 50 in 21 balls with badani.

    you are my childhood hero. dont know why.

    all my family members are fan of you.

    I am learning bowling from you. and my bowling action exactly resembles yours.

    sachin's retirement doesn't upset as yours did.

    All the best for your future my hero.

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

    Ajit .. i don't know what to tell ... since 1998 on-wards when u played in Indian A team .. that time on-wards .. until now ...am ur big fan .. always respecting you ... i really loved the attitude on the ground also ur respect to others ... out of 100% -- 20% batting -- 30 % bowling --- 20% fielding -- 30% for ur attitude on the ground... wishing all the best wishes for ur future .. you are always in my prayers ....

  • VKFan on October 17, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    I remember the yorker that Sreerang refers to above, but I seem to recall Aravinda D'Silva being at the receiving end. Nevertheless, it's one of my best memories of Agarkar's career. As is of course, the moment when he reached 100 at Lord's, and the 6-41 at Adelaide in the Test, and the 6-for in the ODI against Australia on the same tour... Terrific servant of Mumbai cricket in the past few seasons.

  • on October 17, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    salute to great mumbaikar player. He was extremly talented.

  • on October 17, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    He bowled really well in Australia under sachin's captaincy , but over shadowed by his failure in batting. He generated good pace with his little frame. Cricket is a tough game for bowlers especially Fast bowlers. All the best Ajith.

  • tcherian on October 17, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Congrats Ajit even with his wiry body he could generate good amount of speed and was an excellent fielder Please take up coaching.....thanks

  • vanjanimohit on October 17, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Ajit Agarkar, the player who was fastest to 50 wickets in ODI for India. A true match winner and used as wicket taking bowler by Azhar. I would always cherish the matches you played for India and the amazing ability you had to take wickets. One of my favorite bowlers to have played for India. Sad to see you not playing international cricket for 6 long years and that too when Indian bowlers have struggled by far in every condition. Selectors should have definitely given an attempt to give Ajit another chance. Will miss the fun of consecutive number of ducks scored by you as well as you making batsman out for a duck. Take a bow Agarkar.

  • on October 17, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    MOST UNDER RATED GUY IN INDIAN CRICKET

    He is the only one who can reverse the ball with the Ultimate control !

    How can we forgot when He takes the off stump of Jack Kallis and Ian Bell while they Leaving the ball !

    India famous Victory in Australia came with the help of Him and Dravid !

    He as Ultimate gem for Indian cricket !

    Now See the bowler of Indian team !

    I dont find anyone going past in his wicket tally in ODI cricket specially Fast Bowlers

  • Sreerang on October 17, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    Thank you Ajit, for some lovely memories. Wish you all the best in the future. One distinct memory is when Agarkar bowled a perfect yorker to Atapattu, albeit a slower one and Atapattu played all over it, completely clueless and the stumps shattered. Have never seen another delivery like that from anybody.

  • Unmesh_cric on October 16, 2013, 21:20 GMT

    What a selfless cricketer! He is going out at the right time and for the right reasons. Also, in this age where every cricketer is looking for financial rewards through IPL, he is not tempted..he knows that he has contributed Mumbai and India team whatever he could. He is going out as satisfied man. Kudos and hats off!

  • on October 17, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    I can't forget the ball you bowled to alister champell of Zimbabwe in a test where his off stump goes over his head. the glory to Ian bell. Chris Gayle's dangerous customer. Always a nightmare to Sri Lanka. Fastest 50 in 21 balls with badani.

    you are my childhood hero. dont know why.

    all my family members are fan of you.

    I am learning bowling from you. and my bowling action exactly resembles yours.

    sachin's retirement doesn't upset as yours did.

    All the best for your future my hero.

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

    Ajit .. i don't know what to tell ... since 1998 on-wards when u played in Indian A team .. that time on-wards .. until now ...am ur big fan .. always respecting you ... i really loved the attitude on the ground also ur respect to others ... out of 100% -- 20% batting -- 30 % bowling --- 20% fielding -- 30% for ur attitude on the ground... wishing all the best wishes for ur future .. you are always in my prayers ....

  • VKFan on October 17, 2013, 16:45 GMT

    I remember the yorker that Sreerang refers to above, but I seem to recall Aravinda D'Silva being at the receiving end. Nevertheless, it's one of my best memories of Agarkar's career. As is of course, the moment when he reached 100 at Lord's, and the 6-41 at Adelaide in the Test, and the 6-for in the ODI against Australia on the same tour... Terrific servant of Mumbai cricket in the past few seasons.

  • on October 17, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    salute to great mumbaikar player. He was extremly talented.

  • on October 17, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    He bowled really well in Australia under sachin's captaincy , but over shadowed by his failure in batting. He generated good pace with his little frame. Cricket is a tough game for bowlers especially Fast bowlers. All the best Ajith.

  • tcherian on October 17, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Congrats Ajit even with his wiry body he could generate good amount of speed and was an excellent fielder Please take up coaching.....thanks

  • vanjanimohit on October 17, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Ajit Agarkar, the player who was fastest to 50 wickets in ODI for India. A true match winner and used as wicket taking bowler by Azhar. I would always cherish the matches you played for India and the amazing ability you had to take wickets. One of my favorite bowlers to have played for India. Sad to see you not playing international cricket for 6 long years and that too when Indian bowlers have struggled by far in every condition. Selectors should have definitely given an attempt to give Ajit another chance. Will miss the fun of consecutive number of ducks scored by you as well as you making batsman out for a duck. Take a bow Agarkar.

  • on October 17, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    MOST UNDER RATED GUY IN INDIAN CRICKET

    He is the only one who can reverse the ball with the Ultimate control !

    How can we forgot when He takes the off stump of Jack Kallis and Ian Bell while they Leaving the ball !

    India famous Victory in Australia came with the help of Him and Dravid !

    He as Ultimate gem for Indian cricket !

    Now See the bowler of Indian team !

    I dont find anyone going past in his wicket tally in ODI cricket specially Fast Bowlers

  • on October 17, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    Hats Off Ajith, Good way to go, I love the way you hit sixers and your yorkers. I am 100% sure that if you had the best fielders like in the current team, you would have got more and more wickets and better economy. Unfortunate that you had lazy legs in the field at that time. Best remembered for the 6/41 vs Australia, a match winning performance and century at Lords. Thank you for all the entertainment with the bat and ball. Good to see players like you thinking about youngsters unlike other selfish players. All the best for your future

  • on October 17, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Well done Ajit Agarkar....LEGEND

  • sgaurav26 on October 17, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    All the best Agarkar... You are truly a selfless cricketer and hats off to you for the contribution you have made to Indian Cricket..In my memory, after Kapil Dev, you were the best fast bowler who was also an exceptional fielder..In fact even today, we don't have quality fast bowlers who can field at Point, long on etc..

  • on October 17, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    Hats Off.. All you can say after reading this interview is respect!..

  • vinjoy on October 17, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Question 6 is important - personal records dont matter. I wish someone else from Mumbai also felt the same!!

  • keysersoze111 on October 17, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    Congratulations and well played to a great cricketer. Hope you have a brilliant time post cricket as well. The 6/41 vs Australia will always be remembered, among other performances.

  • jimbond on October 17, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    This is exactly where I feel BCCI discriminates against the 'non-stars' in IPL. This rule about uncapped cricketers is absolute crap. The basic problem with Agarkar in his playing days was his tendency to get injured. Else, unlike other Indian bowlers he never dropped in pace. And he never took his batting seriously, else his timing used to be great while batting. He should be better than most guys in IPL. He is considered as an uncapped player (for not having played last five years internationally), and toothless bowlers like Mithun or Unadkat or Dinda will be considered for bidding at a higher price- is tough to understand. What does BCCI or the franchisees gain by saving money off these poorer cricketers when they are willing to give millions to players like Dhoni or Yusuf Pathan or Gambhir. Anyway, Agarkar wish you all the best!

  • simpleadmin on October 16, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    All the best agarkar,,,its really sad that u r retiring,,,,i believe u were one of the best rare fast bowler india hve produced,,,i still dint understand y u were dropped in 2007...nw india is facing worst issue of nt finding a bowler who could bowl at death,,but ur death bowling is always in my memory,,,still cant forget ur match winning performance against srilanka in 98 at both srilanka and sharjah,,cant forget the spell u bowled in tandem with zaheer against england in opening game(natwest trophy 2002)...if u would hve not been dropped surely u would hve been the highest wicket taker fr India....miss u agarkar

  • srikanthGM on October 16, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    ""What will that do? When I started last year's final, I knew I was on 295. That was the first time I actually knew about my stats. I still stopped bowling after taking three wickets in the first six overs. If those landmarks were to happen, they would have happened last season. Had it been a landmark in international cricket, maybe I would have thought about it. But Dhawal (Kulkarni) needs a five-for more than me now.""

    Wow!! Amazing to see such clear headed non selfish behavior in today's cricket.

    Thanks Agarkar for all the memories you gave us. Fastest 50 wickets in one day international cricket showed us the quality of your bowling. What always amazed me is the amount of bounce you could extract when others much taller than you failed. Great that you helped youngsters when you could.

    Best of luck for the future.

  • on October 16, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    well done Agarkar. wish you luck.

  • on October 16, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Congratulations on ur decision..very well timed..i hope BCCI would have given u atleast one chance or a benefit game like cricket South Africa gave it to Ntini...feeling Sad...as a fast bowler u r right their among the best who never had either captain`s support or coach`s support...

  • on October 16, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    Congratulations on ur decision..very well timed..i hope BCCI would have given u atleast one chance or a benefit game like cricket South Africa gave it to Ntini...feeling Sad...as a fast bowler u r right their among the best who never had either captain`s support or coach`s support...

  • on October 16, 2013, 17:08 GMT

    well done Agarkar. wish you luck.

  • srikanthGM on October 16, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    ""What will that do? When I started last year's final, I knew I was on 295. That was the first time I actually knew about my stats. I still stopped bowling after taking three wickets in the first six overs. If those landmarks were to happen, they would have happened last season. Had it been a landmark in international cricket, maybe I would have thought about it. But Dhawal (Kulkarni) needs a five-for more than me now.""

    Wow!! Amazing to see such clear headed non selfish behavior in today's cricket.

    Thanks Agarkar for all the memories you gave us. Fastest 50 wickets in one day international cricket showed us the quality of your bowling. What always amazed me is the amount of bounce you could extract when others much taller than you failed. Great that you helped youngsters when you could.

    Best of luck for the future.

  • simpleadmin on October 16, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    All the best agarkar,,,its really sad that u r retiring,,,,i believe u were one of the best rare fast bowler india hve produced,,,i still dint understand y u were dropped in 2007...nw india is facing worst issue of nt finding a bowler who could bowl at death,,but ur death bowling is always in my memory,,,still cant forget ur match winning performance against srilanka in 98 at both srilanka and sharjah,,cant forget the spell u bowled in tandem with zaheer against england in opening game(natwest trophy 2002)...if u would hve not been dropped surely u would hve been the highest wicket taker fr India....miss u agarkar

  • jimbond on October 17, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    This is exactly where I feel BCCI discriminates against the 'non-stars' in IPL. This rule about uncapped cricketers is absolute crap. The basic problem with Agarkar in his playing days was his tendency to get injured. Else, unlike other Indian bowlers he never dropped in pace. And he never took his batting seriously, else his timing used to be great while batting. He should be better than most guys in IPL. He is considered as an uncapped player (for not having played last five years internationally), and toothless bowlers like Mithun or Unadkat or Dinda will be considered for bidding at a higher price- is tough to understand. What does BCCI or the franchisees gain by saving money off these poorer cricketers when they are willing to give millions to players like Dhoni or Yusuf Pathan or Gambhir. Anyway, Agarkar wish you all the best!

  • keysersoze111 on October 17, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    Congratulations and well played to a great cricketer. Hope you have a brilliant time post cricket as well. The 6/41 vs Australia will always be remembered, among other performances.

  • vinjoy on October 17, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Question 6 is important - personal records dont matter. I wish someone else from Mumbai also felt the same!!

  • on October 17, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    Hats Off.. All you can say after reading this interview is respect!..

  • sgaurav26 on October 17, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    All the best Agarkar... You are truly a selfless cricketer and hats off to you for the contribution you have made to Indian Cricket..In my memory, after Kapil Dev, you were the best fast bowler who was also an exceptional fielder..In fact even today, we don't have quality fast bowlers who can field at Point, long on etc..

  • on October 17, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Well done Ajit Agarkar....LEGEND