Vinayak Samant, the Mumbai wicketkeeper, has announced he is quitting the domestic side after spending eight seasons with them. Samant, 37, said he still has hopes of prolonging his first-class career with another team.
Samant played an important hand in Mumbai's recent Ranji Trophy title win against Karnataka in Mysore, scoring 67 under pressure in the first innings to arrest his side from a dicey 84 for 4. Mumbai won the title for the 39th time following a nail-biting final, winning by six runs on the fourth day.
In an interview to the Hindustan Times, Samanth said he had made his decision at the start of the 2009-10 Ranji season. "At the start of the season I informed coach Praveen Amre and skipper Wasim Jaffer that it would be my last year with Mumbai. I had heard rumours about a state selector saying that I am growing old and unfit. So, I preferred to take a call before going through any unpleasant situation.
"I will inform the Mumbai selectors about my decision soon. But I will continue playing first-class cricket for some other state maybe."
Though originally from Mumbai, Samant had to compete with Samir Dighe for the wicketkeeper's place. He moved to Assam and represented them between 1995 and 2001. After an acrimonious stint, he decided to move back to Mumbai, once Dighe retired.
"The politics there started getting to me. I was being tossed around in the team and after six years, I said enough is enough," Samant said. "If I have to face hurdles, let that be for a champion side. After performing at various tournaments in 2001, I finally made my Ranji debut for Mumbai in 2002."
Samant was part of the winning squad five times. During his time with Mumbai, he played 69 first-class matches, scoring 2010 runs at 26.10, taking 225 catches and effecting 29 stumpings. However, his most memorable moments were with the bat.
"I scored four 50s and salvaged the team from very bad situations in my debut season. Even my innings of 66 in the 2006-07 semi-final against Baroda, when Mumbai were 0 for 5, is memorable. All were tough challenges," he said. "Your attitude is very important. Being good at your job is not the lone criteria to cement your place in the squad. Playing for Mumbai is like a competition within a competition because there are so many match-winners in the side."
Among the contenders to replace Samant are Omkar Gurav and Sufiyan Shaikh, the promising wicketkeeper who's currently with the Under-19 squad for the World Cup in New Zealand.