HYDERABAD: VVS Laxman, one of Indian cricket’s most stylish servants, pulled the curtain down on an illustrious career on Saturday, announcing his retirement from International cricket with "immediate effect".
At a press conference organised at the Uppal Stadium here, a solemn Laxman shocked the gathered media persons with his decision.
Laxman had been selected for both the NZ Tests – to be played at Hyderabad and Bangalore – and was widely expected to compete in his final match on his home ground, and forsake the second Test.
But his decision to pass on what would have been the perfect swansong in his home city came as a shock to everybody.
"It's been 16 years since I have made my international debut for India and I think it is the right time to move on," said an emotional Laxman.
The move put an end to weeks of speculation over when the 134-Test veteran would call it a day.
"I will be very satisfied with the decision that I have taken and I will never regret this decision. Even in my exit, I will be following and living my ideals, which would be to keep the country before my personal needs.
"It was my privilege to play with the some of the legends of the game like Sachin, Rahul, Kumble, Sehwag, Saurav and a lot of other players as well. All of them inspired me because everyone had one single goal - to do well for country and to work for the progress of Indian cricket. They were all role models for me," he added.
Laxman had been selected for the two-match series against New Zealand in the face of mounting criticism that his inclusion impinged upon grooming a younger batsman for the middle order.
"I think it is time to give youngsters a chance at home ahead of a tough season. I have always kept the country's success ahead of personal aspirations.
"I would like to give youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves. I am grateful to almighty for blessing me to live my dream of playing cricket. I have always felt that I have got the opportunity to serve my country and have played the best cricket not only in India but overseas as well," he said.
The cricketer had been in talks with near and dear ones from his personal and professional circle on the issue of his retirement, which came sharply in focus after he fared poorly in England and Australia in 2011.
"I communicated my decision to BCCI earlier in the day that I am not going to continue playing cricket and would hang my boots with immediate effect. It was emotional during the past 4-5 hours while talking to my colleagues with whom I've shared the dressing room.
"I have not been able to get in touch with 'MS' as he is very hard to reach," said Laxman.
The 37-year-old averaged less than 20 in four Tests in Australia and had made a paltry 182 in as many games in England earlier in 2011. Following Rahul Dravid’s retirement in April, the spotlight was placed firmly on Laxman and his future in the Indian team.
The wristy batsman, who is best remembered for the epochal 281 he scored against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, singled out a few other innings that stood out in a glorious career.
"Any innings that saves a match is very special. There are a lot of innings and matches that are very close to me and I will cherish all of them. Durban 2010 (96 vs SA) was one of those knocks that I would cherish. Winning that match in the fashion that we did will be very memorable to me," he said.