Gautam Gambhir has announced his retirement from cricket. The cricketer was an integral member of the two World Cup winning squads in 2007 and 2011.
His last appearance for India came in the first Test of the home series against England in late 2016. In a career which spanned for over two decades, he played 58 Tests, scoring 4154 runs, at an average of 41.95, including nine centuries and 22 fifties.
He played 147 ODIs, scoring 5238 runs at an average of 39.68 and a strike-rate of 85.25. He also featured in 37 T20Is.
The left-hander posted an emotional video on his Facebook page which summarized his entire career, the struggles and his achievements.
The retirement letter
A big thanks to all of you for sparing time. Well, I am here to share a thought which I have been contemplating and I dare say dreading.
The thought has been with me day and night. It has travelled with me on flights like an irritable excess baggage. It has accompanied me to practice sessions mocking like a menacing bowler. On certain other days it has made my dinner taste horrible.
Grounds, dressing rooms, wash rooms, you name it the thought has rarely deserted me. Each time I got out playing for India or KKR or Delhi Daredevils this thought would turn into a sharp, disturbing noise and walk with me all the way to the dressing room shouting: "IT IS OVER GAUTI".
It slapped me hard when I got those three ducks in a row in 2014 IPL. Then again when I had a dreadful tour to England the same year. In 2016 I was on my knees again. I was dropped after Rajkot Test match against England. I was searching for my confidence in that deep, dark pit but I could only lay my hands on the same sharp, disturbing noise. It said the same: "IT IS OVER GAUTI".
But once again I refused to pay attention. I wanted to beat this noise. Instead of getting knocked down, I punished my body even more. The sleep became incidental. Early morning runs on to the ridge behind my house got longer. My personal trainers were instructed to be severe on me. I ate as if I was bankrupt.
In these times your love and affection worked as steroids. I wanted to win again. I wanted to conquer again.
After a decent 2017 domestic season I entered this year's IPL with confidence as my best buddy. My feet seemed to have got fresh batteries. My head was still as a pond. And my game, roaring as a raging ocean. I thought all those negative noises were dead. But I was wrong. Six games of IPL for Delhi Daredevils it was back. And this time it was louder than before. Perhaps, my time was up. Yes, my time was up.
So, here I am, after more than 15 years of cricket for my country I want to retire from playing this beautiful game. Despite all the aches and pains; fears and failures I won't mind a repeat of this in my next life too. But obviously with a few more wins for India, a few more hundreds and in the next life may be a few 5-wicket hauls as well.
This may sound a little wishful but then I have seen wishes do come true. Two World Cups, highest run-getter in finals of both these games is a stuff dreams are made of and I only had this dream of winning the World Cup for you all. I think someone up there was writing my script but looks like now he has ran out of his ink!
But along the way he wrote some fascinating chapters. Somewhere on the top is being part of the number one Test team in the world. A trophy that I look at very fondly is the one that I got for being awarded ICC Test batsman of the year in 2009. For a purist like me it is a reward of somewhat knowing where my offstump was.
The historic series wins in New Zealand and in CB series in Australia will be reflected upon fondly. But I do hope the current Indian team Down Under can overshadow our feats. I won't say the list is satisfactory as I feel I was good enough for a lot more.
Along this journey I have fostered some meaningful partnerships. None more than with you guys, the supporters of Indian cricket, the most important stakeholders. I have always disapproved of the terms "fans" or "crowd". Its quite demeaning because I think at the end of the day it is you guys who make cricket or cricketers what they are.
Let me address you all as PARTNERS, the partners without which Indian cricket is a body without its soul. A big thanks for supporting me and the teams that I played for. A special thanks to all my Partners from Kolkata. We both wear our hearts on our sleeve. We both are very demanding and play with extreme passion, may be that is why my love affair with Kolkata will continue forever.
Next on my thank you list are the curators, groundsmen and numerous dressing room attendants across India. They toiled for little or minimal returns for what is essentially treated as a thankless job. I hope their life standards improve from that they are now. A big thanks to each one of you.
I'd also like to thank numerous net bowlers who bowled to me so that I can become a better batsman. They travelled long distances just to help me practice. Thank you very much.
My cricket coach Mr Sanjay Bhardwaj stood with me during thick and thin of life. Whenever in trouble I could count on him. "Sir, I don't know if I have you proud but I can assure you sir I gave it all that I had." Sanjay sir introduced me to the other coaching influence of my life, the late Mr Parthasarthy Sharma. He was an institution in the art of batting. A lot of credit for my ability to play spin bowling should go to him. I hope I was worth his time.
Former Australia opening batsman Justin Langer was a huge help too. I turned to him in 2015 for some advise. I got that in plenty and some really heavy praises. "JL, I don't know if you meant that I have the hands of Brian Lara but I thank you nevertheless. And tell your wife Sue that she does some amazing butter chicken."
Through JL I met his childhood coach Noddy Holder. His simple approach of see the ball and hit it back to where it came from makes him one of the best that I have met. He is a very humble man and calls himself "NODDY NOBODY HOLDER". But for my batting, Noddy was everybody.
I'd also like to thank all my coaches that I worked with in the Indian team, KKR, Delhi Daredevils and of course Delhi state teams. Each one them had a huge influence on my career and my personality.
The thing that I will miss the most is the camradrie of an Indian team's dressing room. It was a wonderful place to be in. Yes, there are pressures of international sport but then when you have team-mates like I had these pressures look elementary. I learnt heaps from each one of them. I will miss all of that and more. Thank you guys, you all will be my one, big family.
Thank you DDCA and BCCI for helping me realise my dreams. Thank you KKR for giving me an opportunity to express myself as leader.
In the end I'd like to thank all my family members for their love and support. My parents, grand parents, both the mamas and maamis, my wife and my two little angels who took all my tantrums and mood swings.
I'd like to begin with the original talent scout of my family, my mom. It was she who took me to a proper cricket academy at the age of 10 and rest is history. In my tough times Mom was and is my favourite punching bag. I am extremely sorry mom i have been an absolute jughead.
My dad took more pressure than me whenever I played. He never shared with me but his colleagues would tell me he'd never watch TV when my game was on. Dad, you too can relax now.
My Maama who shaped me as a cricketer and human being is my real pillar of support. He is economical in words but is lavish in actions. What he did for me can never be matched or measured. I hope I have lived up to your expectations. Without seeking your permission I'd like to brag that I am your biggest achievement. Thanks Maama.
My late Maami was like my mother and a friend too. I am sure sitting up there she would still be worried if I ate properly or not. Once she was assured of my meals, she would ask me about my cricketing exploits.
My late naani was the same. I miss her loads everyday and most of all today. She was my biggest strength when I was going through the lows of my life. I hope I have done her and my Naana proud. Whatever I am today it is because of them.
My other Maama and Maami, thanks for standing by in pressure times. You pulled me out of a rut time and again.
To my dear darling sister Ektaa – sorry for not being there on most Rakhis. I am also sorry if I was always seeking attention from you. I am sure I have given you some bragging rights.
To my dear, dear friends Vivek and Dinesh – Thanks a lot for being there and praying for me. I am lucky to have you as friends. Especially Dinesh to have taken all the nonsense.
A special mention to Natasha, my wife. She is the one who has borne the brunt of my mood swings. Unfortunately she has shared more lows than highs with me. Thanks a lot for being there as my strength. Also babes you will see a lot more of me now. And as someone once said, "a retired husband is often a wife's full time job." So get ready for this new assignment.
At some stage I would like to shed the retired cricketers tag and would like to recycle myself to be useful for something else in cricket and beyond. Lets see. Currently my immediate worry is that I have to take my elder daughter Aazeen to buy a yellow dress and the younger one Anaiza wants to play with her best friends, the dogs.
The next Ranji Trophy game against Andhra will be my last day in the Sun. It is all coming to an end from where it started at Ferozshah Kotla. I am big one on loyalty. I am glad that I could finish with teams that I started my journey with. In this case ending with both Delhi Daredevils and Delhi domestic side has given me immense satisfaction.
As a batsman I have always valued timing. I know the time is just right. I am sure its sweet as well. Good bye and good luck.
Thanks and regards,
Gautam Gambhir, now a former India cricketer