Ramesh Powar to retire after 2015-16 Ranji Trophy

Ramesh Powar celebrates one of his three wickets Sivaraman Kitta / © K Sivaraman

Offspinner Ramesh Powar has announced he will retire from all forms of cricket at the end of the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy season. Thirty-seven-year-old Powar, with 341 Ranji wickets till date, has the most wickets among active bowlers in the tournament.

He has played for Gujarat since the 2014-15 season, following a year with Rajasthan. Before that, he had represented Mumbai for 14 seasons. Between 2004 and 2007, he had played for the country too, in two Tests and 31 ODIs, taking six wickets in the longest format and 34 in the one-dayers. Handy with the bat, he also has an ODI fifty.

Powar's decision allows him to play in the Masters Cricket League in January; the tournament rules require a player to be retired from all forms of competitive cricket, including the IPL, to participate.

"After leaving Mumbai, I thought I'll keep on playing, but then again I've thought it can't keep going this way," Powar told ESPNcricinfo. "There has got to be some motivation. If you aren't going to get picked for India, you can't just keep on playing. So I just thought I'll rather play cricket on my own terms.

"Luckily, there is the Masters League in January. Some of my old buddies are playing so I might enjoy that and have some fun. I'll play out this whole season for Gujarat though. The last league game ends on December 4. If we make the knockouts [which spill over to 2016], I'll speak to people and take a call."

Powar, understandably, picked out his time with the national team as his most cherished cricket memories. "To share the Indian dressing room with [VVS] Laxman, Sachin [Tendulkar], Rahul [Dravid] and Sourav [Ganguly] was the ultimate dream come true, because I never thought I'll play cricket professionally and to get where I got was a big thing for me."

Through his career, Powar often attracted attention for a perceived lack of fitness and a fascination for funky sunglasses. "Lots of people thought I was looking for style in those glasses, but glasses only helped me stay focussed," Powar said. "I had put a lot of effort in my bowling and would bowl two hours, three hours every day. It's debatable [what people said about my fitness].

"When I was playing for India, someone asked me about my fitness. I said I can't be Mohammad Kaif or Yuvraj Singh. I'm Ramesh Powar, this is my frame and this is how I play cricket. I tried to lose weight during the West Indies series in 2006, and I lost my bowling also. I'm a classical bowler and I said I'd rather work on my bowling. I always tried to be fit through cricket and tried to be a safe fielder."

Now, once he is done playing, Powar said, he would look to give back to the game by coaching young spinners.