'Very Very Special' Laxman bows out gracefully

'Very Very Special' Laxman bows out gracefully

I have always listened to my inner conscience, says the right-hander

Bringing down curtains on a glorious cricketing career spanning 16 years, stylish batsman VVS Laxman on Saturday announced his retirement from international cricket.

The 37-year-old Laxman, one of the finest batsmen in contemporary cricket, said that he listened to his “inner voice” while taking the decision to bid adieu to the game which he played with “great pride for the country”. “I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect. I think it’s the right time to move on,” an emotional Laxman told a press conference here on Saturday.

Earlier, it was speculated that he would announce his retirement at the end of the first Test against New Zealand at his hometown Hyderabad. But the local hero surprised his fans and called it quits, though he was picked in the Indian squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand beginning here from August 23. He chose not to take the opportunity to bow out of international cricket in front of his home crowd in Hyderabad, for whom he will continue to play Ranji trophy till the end of the year.

“It was a tough decision to take, I have always listened to my inner conscience. The inner voice is a divine voice, I have always done that right through my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. I felt this is the right time to move on. I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would have loved contributing to the team’s success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right time to give opportunity to the youngsters in home conditions ahead of international assignments,” Laxman said.

“Till last night I was unable to make up my mind, but in the end I listened to my inner voice and arrived at my decision to retire. I informed the chairman of selectors (Krishnamachari Srikkanth) this morning that I would not continue playing for India. I also spoke to many of my team-mates, they were surprised that I was retiring before the series. It was all very emotional,” he said.

His record-breaking knock of 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in March 2001 will be forever etched in the memory of cricket lovers. That knock was ranked sixth in Wisden's list of 100 great Test innings in the history of the game. It was one of the several match-winning innings that the unassuming star played against the mighty Aussies.

"When I remember that knock, I feel how lucky I was to be part of history. How we changed the result of that match. It is always emotional when I think of that knock", he recalled  I always tried to my best to give everything to the team while maintaining my dignity. There were times I am sure I did not perform well, I disappointed them but I can assure that it was not due to lack of effort," Laxman said.

Asked whether his decision to retire was a hasty decision for which he might regret later, he said "I never regret the decisions I take, because my conscience is clear. I got the privilege to serve the country. I am satisfied with the decision.”

Laxman said the Indian selectors were surprised when he told them about his decision this morning. "The selectors and board president (N Srinivasan) were surprised at my decision when I communicated to them this morning, but I managed to convince them."

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