Sourav Ganguly has said he will retire after the upcoming Test series against Australia. His statement, a moment of unscripted drama at the end of a routine press conference in Bangalore, ends widespread speculation over his future.
"Just one last thing lads, before I leave, I just want to say that this is going to be my last series," Ganguly said after taking the last question of his press conference. "I've decided to quit. I told my team-mates before coming here. These four Test matches are going to be my last and hopefully we'll go on a winning note."
With that, he got up and walked out, offering no explanation for what led to the decision. Shortly after that Kris Srikkanth, the head of India's new selection panel, threw some light on it. "I think he's probably taken the right decision," Srikkanth said. "He had a good chat with me and my co-selector Narendra Hirwani. He wants a peaceful series without any troubles on his mind. As a player I can tell you that when you have an axe over your head it doesn't feel right."
India's selectors, headed by Srikkanth, picked Ganguly in a 15-man squad for the first two Tests against Australia despite his being overlooked for the Irani Cup match between the Rest of India and Delhi. Lacking top-quality match practice since the end of the Sri Lanka Tests, he was rushed to Chennai for an India 'A' match against New Zealand.
"To be honest I didn't expect to be picked for this series," Ganguly said. "But once I was chosen, I started preparing. Even when I was left out of the Rest of India squad, which was a bit of a surprise for me, I was still training with the Bengal boys."
Ganguly also dismissed speculation over a "voluntary retirement scheme" for the senior members of India's squad. "I don't think it's ever possible that anybody can offer you a VRS. You cannot do that to players like [Anil] Kumble, [Rahul] Dravid, [VVS] Laxman, me, Sachin [Tendulkar] or anyone.
"What is important is what you get to know from the board [BCCI] and as far as I, and some of the senior players, are concerned, we have not received any intimation from the board on anything."
Ganguly, 36, has scored 6888 runs in 109 Tests, with 15 hundreds. He played 49 Tests as captain, the most by an Indian. The 21 matches won during his tenure is also an Indian record, and his win percentage of over 40 is the highest for players who have captained India in more than one Test. Starting with a hundred on debut, Ganguly's Test average has never dipped below 40.
In 311 ODIs, he scored 11,363 runs at 41.02. He captained India in 147 ODIs. His last ODI was against Pakistan in Gwalior on November 15, 2007. He is one of only three players to complete the treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches in ODIs, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar being the others. Along with Tendulkar, he formed a prolific partnership at the top of the order, with 6609 runs at an average of nearly 50 per stand in 136 innings.
Since his recall in December 2006 and till the end of the home series against South Africa earlier this year, Ganguly scored 1571 runs at 50.67, including a maiden double-century. However, he managed only 96 runs in six innings during India's 2-1 series defeat in Sri Lanka this summer.