One of the most aggressive batsmen of all time.
By Dileep Thekkethil
Two years after his unceremonious departure from the Indian cricket team, ace opening batsman Virender Sehwag today announced his retirement from international cricket, putting an end to a charismatic career that lasted for over a decade.
Sehwag, who made his one-day international debut in 1999 against Pakistan, has scored 17,253 runs in both formats of the game, the test matches and one-dayers, and was touted as a match winner for India.
After exaggerated reports about his retirement appeared in media, Sehwag tweeted a message via Twitter that read “I hereby retire from all forms of international cricket and from the Indian Premier League. A statement will follow”
To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of my retirement yesterday was exaggerated! However, I have always done what I felt was right and not what conformists thought to be right. God has been kind and I have done what I wanted to do – on the field and in my life. And I had decided some time back that I will retire on my 37th birthday. So today, while I spend my day with my family, I hereby announce my retirement from all forms of International Cricket and from the Indian Premier League.
Cricket has been my life and continues to be so. Playing for India was a memorable journey and I tried to make it more memorable for my team mates and the Indian cricket fans. I believe that I was reasonably successful in doing so. For that, I wish to thank all my team mates over the years – some of the greatest players of the game. I would like to thank all my captains who believed in me and backed me to the hilt. I also thank our greatest partner, the Indian cricket fan, for all the love, support and memories.
I have also played against a lot of great players and it was an absolute pleasure and honour to do so. It was possibly the greatest motivation there was to play to the best of my ability. I have lived my dream and played at the finest of cricket grounds across the globe and I want to thank the groundsmen, clubs, associations and everyone who painstakingly prepare the arena for our performances.
“I miss my father today, he was there when the journey started and I wish he could have been there today as well but I know I made him proud and wherever he is today, he is watching me with pride. I want to thank my coach, Mr. A.N. Sharma sir, who was possibly the only coach who could have groomed me into the player that I became. I would probably have struggled to play for my school under any other coach. My mother, my wife Aarti and my children Aaryavir and Vedant are my biggest strength and their presence in my life keeps my mind without fear and head held high.
I would like to thank the BCCI for all its support over the years. The work that the BCCI does at such a scale is phenomenal and it has had some fine administrators over the years who have led the Board in developing the game, appreciating the contribution of players and have brought a lot of benefit to the players.
I would also like to thank the Delhi and District Cricket Association and particularly Mr. Arun Jaitley who always supported me and sought our feedback and implemented what the players wanted and his presence ensured that I always had someone to rely upon personally and for the furtherance of the game’s best interest in Delhi.
I would like to thank everyone at the Haryana Cricket Association who have welcomed me with so much love and affection and it is really exciting to work with some really talented youngsters. I would especially like to thank Anirudh Chaudhary and Ranbir Singh Mahendra, who has always had words of motivation for me during the toughest of times and I have felt safe in the knowledge that I can always turn to him for well considered advice which I value immensely.
I would also like to thank the Delhi Daredevils and the Kings XI Punjab, the franchisees that I represented, for believing in me and letting me be a part of them. I always gave my best for my team and consider myself fortunate to play with some brilliant players in the IPL.
I would also like to thank the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC). Very little is known about the effort they put in to promote sportsmen and sportswomen across various disciplines. ONGC gave me the security to pursue my game and the organization will always have a special place in my heart.
I must also add that I have enjoyed every Press conference and every interaction with the members of the media through out my international career and the presence of Indian media on foreign tours has left some very pleasant memories that I shall always cherish.
I want to thank all my sponsors for believing in me and all the bat manufacturers that have been associated with me over the years for providing me the willow that I love.
I want to tell everyone at the Sehwag International School, Jhajjar that I now hope to have a higher frequency of visits to the campus to be with you all.
I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and I apologise for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way!
Talking about his achievements, Sehwag’s name will be engraved in golden letters in the history of Indian cricket as he is the only Indian player to have ever scored a triple century in a test match, that too twice in his career and the second player after Tendulkar to have scored a double century in ODIs.
His career, which started a decade ago, had gone through difficult days, at times losing his form for quite a long time, but his comebacks were remarkable as he marked them by scoring big runs.
Out of the 104 test matches he has played, Sehwag scored 8586 runs, thus finding the fifth spot among the top Indian players to have scored the maximum runs in test cricket. In addition to this, Sehwag has also scored a total of 8273 runs in ODI’s with 16 centuries and one unforgettable double century performance, scoring 219.
Even though Sehwag was just a part-time bowler, his bowling figures far excel many other cameo bowlers. Sehwag has 40 test and 96 ODI wickets under his belt, which underscores his multitalented persona.
Sehwag was part of the dream team lead by Saurav Ganguly, which though they lost the 2003 World Cup, is still considered as the team of legends. It had Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Ganguly, Zahir Khan and then the young Sehwag who bounced back after cricket in India fell into the lowest ebb following match-fixing allegations.
Sehwag was part of the T20 World Cup winning team of 2007 and the ICC World Cup winning team of 2011. It was only later that Sehwag reportedly lost his form and apparently strained his relationship with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Even though Sehwag was a senior player, he has captained only 12 ODIs and 4 test matches through his career. He had led the Indian team to Johannesburg in 2006 to play India’s first ever T20 match.
His last test match was back in 2013 when India met Australia in Hyderabad and his last ODI was against Pakistan in January 2013. Sehwag’s retirement from the international cricket comes after Zaheer Khan announced his retirement a few days back.