Ajit Agarkar tells Taus Rizvi that his family members were very emotional about his retirement, which made the decision difficult.
Q: Why did yo u suddenly decide to quit?
A: I have been preparing for the season and trying very hard, but fitness-wise it was difficult. If I cannot bowl, then I won’t play just for the sake of it. There are no complaints. I had been thinking about it for a while now.
Q: How tough was the decision?
A: I have been playing cricket for the last 11-12 years, it was always going to be tough. But my head and heart said it is time so it wasn’t really tough. It is like I could have played forever, all my life. But stretching my career by one or two years doesn’t make sense. Playing more would have stopped someone who has been waiting for an opportunity. Anyway, playing more would not have given me a chance to play for India.
Q: When did you decide?
A: I made up my mind last week. But it still took me some time to actually send the letter to Mumbai Cricket Association. I wanted to send the letter before selection and it would have been fair as I didn’t want them to pick me.
Q: Are you satisfied with your career?
A: Very satisfied. In hindsight I could have done something differently as I made my debut in 1996 and played till 2013, won matches and titles for India and Mumbai. Played 200 games for India, got close to 350 international wickets scored a 100 in a Test at Lord’s. Won a few Tests. Happy with whatever I have achieved.
Q: Any regrets?
A: No regrets. Few decisions could have gone my way, but that’s fine. I have been a part of seven Ranji titles. Played for the best state side in India.
Q: Can you share your best moments?
A: Yes. Adelaide Test, where I took six for 41 which we won and then there is Leeds. Every time India won it was always special. There are some moments from the ODIs too. But Leeds and Adelaide stand out.
Q: Who was the best captain you played under?
A: Sanjay Manjrekar was my first captain. Those two years were fantastic; learnt hell of a lot from him. He was an experienced international player at that time and was at his peak. You took so much on board with him and he taught us the right way. I have to say Sanjay without being disrespectful to others. He was so positive.
Q: What about India captains?
A: I enjoyed playing under all the captains. I played a lot under Azhar. He gave me freedom as a bowler and it works if you are nervous. Also, enjoyed quite a bit under Sourav. Played under Sachin (Tendulkar), and it worked as I knew him personally. Rahul Dravid led by example. It was an honour to play with these great players.
Q: Last year you led the Mumbai team to its 40th Ranji title. How was the experience?
A: It was very good. But it’s nothing new for me. I led the junior Mumbai team, then Sharadashram. So captaincy wasn’t alien to me. Leading Mumbai was fantastic as it is the most easiest of teams to lead because it’s probably the best team in India. You don’t have to do much when you have players like Wasim Jaffer, Rohit (Sharma), (Ajinkya) Rahane, all on the fringes of India, then there is (Aditya) Tare. It is massive when you have Zaheer (Khan), who won the crucial game for us. Then we had Tendulkar. What more do you need. Ramesh Powar was always around.
Q: What are your plans after retirement?
A: I am 35 and have played for right reasons. I tried to do as much as possible for Mumbai cricket, pass on the experience to juniors. I have not made any plans yet.
Q: It must be an emotional moment for you.
A: My parents were very emotional. I thank my coach Ramakant Achrekar. Everyone was emotional, including my wife, and it made the decision difficult. Had I been a batsman could have played five more years.
(Taus Rizvi is a Principal Correspondent with DNA. A club-level cricketer, he believes cricket helps in knowing a person’s character. Taus can be followed on @rizvitaus on Twitter. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)