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“I don’t have a chance to play for India [again], so I thought it was the right time”
Former India pace bowler Ajit Agarkar has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket just a few months after he led Mumbai to victory in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season.
Agarkar played 110 first-class matches and claimed 299 first-class wickets at an average of 30.69 in an illustrious career that began in 1996.
Agarkar stated that it was the right time for him to go since the Mumbai team seemed to have no problems supporting themselves without him.
“It was the right time for me,” Agarkar told ESPNcricinfo. “One more season was not going to change much. It could only have meant I would have been around for one more season and one of the youngsters would have been benched for Mumbai.
“I don’t have a chance to play for India [again], so I thought it was the right time. Moreover, it’s not a young [Mumbai] team anymore. It’s a well-balanced unit and I feel it was time to let the younger lot carry the mantle.”
Mumbai’s chairman of selectors Sudhir Naik admitted that he was surprised by Agarkar’s decision to retire.
“It is a surprise to us,” he said. “Today we had a selection committee meeting where practically we had decided to appoint him as the captain.
“But before the meeting commenced, we were told he had informed the MCA that he was retiring.”
In his last few seasons, Agarkar has not been a regular face in the Mumbai side as numerous recurring injuries forced him to sit on the sidelines.
“He was a typical Mumbai player,” former Mumbai coach Pravin Amre said. “He could bring out his best and win the critical sessions.
Amre reminisced about one of Agarkar’s finest bowling spells, which came against Karnataka in Mysore in 2009.
“His five-for in the second innings was memorable,” Amre recalled. “It was such a tight game but he stood strong to snatch that final wicket.
“A close appeal was not given but that really fired him up, and the rest of the team which was behind him.
“He always valued the Mumbai cap. His intensity was always high against a tough opponent.”
Agarkar also represented India in 26 Tests, 191 ODIs and four Twenty20 internationals in a career spanning from 1998 to 2007.