Thilak Naidu, the Karnataka wicketkeeper, has announced his retirement, three years after he played his final first-class match. Naidu, 34, was a mainstay of the Karnataka side for a decade starting 1998-99 and was seen to be close to India selection around 2002-03.
Naidu played 93 first-class matches, taking 220 catches and 18 stumpings. He was also an aggressive lower-order batsman, making 4386 run at 34.80, including eight first-class centuries. In his debut season, he helped Karnataka win the Ranji trophy, the last time the state has won the tournament. He lost his place in the side to CM Gautam three years ago.
Naidu was felicitated at a ceremony at the Chinnaswamy Stadium which was attended by several of the greats of Karnataka cricket, including Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Roger Binny. He said he had no regrets over his career. "I played with pride and passion," he said. "I enjoyed 16 years of my cricketing career, met a lot of wonderful people. As long as I played, I gave my best as a batsman and a wicketkeeper."
Dravid led the tributes to Naidu during the function. "He can hold his head high for what he has done for Karnataka cricket," Dravid said. "Coming from an illustrious line of Karnataka keepers, he held the mantle ably. He was always egging on the bowlers, doing what he could to irritate the opposition, which made it entertaining for me at first slip."
Kumble, the president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, also praised Naidu's contributions. "Thirty-four is no age to retire, it is too young," Kumble said. "Thilak was an exceptional player with a flamboyant style with the bat and with the gloves. He had one step in the Indian team, especially in the 2002-03 Challenger Trophy. He was very close but unfortunately he couldn't make it.
Kumble hoped Naidu would work to develop Karnataka cricket in the future. "You have a lot to contribute to Karnataka cricket, the association welcomes you with open arms." Naidu said he was looking to work as a selector in the future.