Ajit Agarkar retires October 16, 2013

'I have followed the tradition of Mumbai cricket'

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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

  • android_user 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.

  • android_user on October 17, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    salute to great mumbaikar player. He was extremly talented.

  • dummy4fb 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.

  • dummy4fb 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

  • dummy4fb 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

  • dummy4fb on October 17, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Well done Ajit Agarkar....LEGEND