New Delhi: VVS Laxman ended all speculation surrounding his retirement on Saturday when he announced his decision to call it quits from international cricket with immediate effect.
"I am retiring from international cricket with immediate effect," Laxman said during a press conference. "This is the right time for me to move on after [playing] 16 years of cricket for India."
Earlier, it was speculated that Laxman would announce his retirement at the end of the first Test against New Zealand at his hometown Hyderabad. But the right-handed batsman, who was reportedly miffed at comments in the media that his presence was blocking chances for the youngsters, did not want to wait for the New Zealand series to finish.
The 37-year-old said it's important to give youngsters a chance to test their skills in home condition before they embark on foreign tours. "This is the right time to give opportunity to young players before overseas series."
Laxman said he was fortunate to play with some of the finest cricketers who have played for India. "[I am] fortunate to play in an era when Indian team played some of its best cricket home and abroad. I always tried my best to give to the team while maintaining my dignity. There must be time I may have disappointed my team but I never fell shorts in my efforts."
And though the Hyderabad Cricket Association appealed Laxman to play the forthcoming home Test against New Zealand, the classical batsman said the decision taken was a well-thought one. “This decision was not taken in haste. This has been a very tough decision for me as I always took pride in playing for the country."
Laxman was included in India's squad to face New Zealand in a two-Test series, beginning with the first Test from August 23 at Hyderabad.
Laxman although wants to contribute back to the game he has played for 16 years, his first priority is to spend time with his family. "I would want to contribute back to the game. [But my] first priority is to spend time with the family."
He also made clear that he will represent Hyderabad in the upcoming season of the Ranji Trophy.
Laxman termed his historical 281-run knock in the 2001 Kolkata Test against Australia was the most cherished one. "I remember my 281 in Kolkata against Australia was special. What a match that was! We bounced back from a tough situation."
He also said the Indian selectors were surprised when he disclosed his decision to them 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."
The tall batsman - known for his gift of timing the ball - made his Test debut in November 1996 and has played 134 Tests, in which he scored 17 hundreds and 56 half-centuries at an average of 45.97. Laxman also played 86 ODIs for India at a batting average of 30.76. He scored six centuries and 10 half-centuries in ODI cricket.