India news July 1, 2015

Hrishikesh Kanitkar retires from cricket

Kanitkar finished his career as one of only three batsmen to have scored 8000-plus runs in the Ranji Trophy © K Sivaraman

Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who last featured in a first-class game more than 18 months ago, has formally retired from cricket. Kanitkar communicated his decision to the BCCI on Wednesday.

"The passion for batting was still there but the motivation to be on the ground fielding for long stretches of time, even in a match, didn't really exist," Kanitkar told ESPNcricinfo. "I didn't want fielding to be a formality. If I am not able to give as much as a youngster is giving in the field, then I shouldn't be pushing myself for a place in a side, so I took the call."

Kanitkar had been plagued with fitness issues, which forced him on the sidelines for most of his last two seasons in domestic cricket. Rajasthan, the last of the three domestic teams he played for, had offered him to join them days before the last domestic season but the batsman couldn't join them since he wasn't fit enough for first-class cricket.

Despite losing his place in India's side in 2000, Kanitkar continued to slog on the domestic circuit and emerged a doyen of domestic cricket. He ended his career as one of only three batsmen to have scored 8000-plus runs in the Ranji Trophy. His 28 Ranji centuries are also joint third-highest in the tournament's history. He is also the only captain in the tournament's history to lift the Elite and Plate league titles.

Kanitkar lead Rajasthan, the third domestic side he played for after his home team Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, to successive Ranji titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12. During his six seasons as professional, he had been honing his coaching skills. He hopes to be involved in the game as a coach. He has already conducted a camp of the BCCI's east zone regional camp for under-19 cricketers.

"Coaching is something I am very keen on. If I get an opportunity to work with teams, it would be a great learning experience," he said. "I will also be keen to work as a cricket analyst in the media. These are the two things are on my agenda. It's like after being a doctor for twenty years, you want to be a consultant after that. You can't just turn the back on something that you have loved all your life."

Kanitkar featured in two Tests and 34 ODIs for India, his four off Saqlain Mushtaq to seal a famous victory in the Independence Cup final was the defining moment of his brief stint in international cricket.

"I have had a great time. So many ups and down, but ups have been more than downs. I would like to especially thank the BCCI and all the state associations I played for - my home state Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It's been a great life so far as a player. I am sure it will transform into a great life as a coach, as a commentator - whatever comes along."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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