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'The body gave me the decision and the injury helped it'

Our Correspondent | November 02, 2008 18:57 IST

Debut: 09.08.1990

Retirement: 02.11.2008

Tests: 132

Wickets: 619

As captain: 14 Tests

Statistics that define a memorable career; facts that will be consigned to the record books now; numbers to which there will be no further additions.

Anil Kumble [Images] has announced his retirement from Test cricket. And it is a quiet announcement, akin to his achievements.

It's been 18 long years since India played England [Images] in the second Test at Old Trafford -- 18 years since Kumble made his debut picking up three wickets, Allan Lamb being the first. There have been 131 Tests thereafter and 616 more wickets and a career to die for. A career that has had many ups, a few downs and one common factor: a quiet entry and an equally quiet exit. There is no hullabaloo about Kumble's retirement whatsoever. The decision had been made after considerable deliberation and less consultation.

But now that Kumble had decided to hang up his boots, he didn't shy away from giving various explanations. After all, this was the last time he was doing it.

"It was not a tough decision to make as such. But, definitely, it is tough when you have played for 18 years," justified Kumble. "But the body gave me the decision and this injury helped it. I had over the years kept fighting but the body kept saying that you can't.

"I also was not bowling at my best, the way I have bowled over the years. So it was the right time for me to move on."

The outgoing captain also surprised a bit, saying that the decision happened overnight.

"I think I had already made the decision yesterday," he admitted. "And I also I knew that I won't be fit for the Nagpur Test. I have a nasty cut and have had 11 stitches. They would have come of on November 8 and that would have been the third day of the Nagpur Test. I didn't want to let the team down and I was also sure that I would leave the squad after this series in any case."

There were increasing calls for him to quit over the last few months.

Some not-so-impressive performances coupled with the fact that, at 38, he is not getting any younger ensured the voices only became louder. Add to it the fitness woes. Did Kumble make the decision under pressure?

"I didn't take the decision because of the criticisms," he clarified. "The body was asking me a question everyday and I didn't think it was possible for me now to go through the grind of Test cricket.

"I did inform my teammates one by one and then I informed the Chairman of Selectors (Kris Srikkanth) at lunch."

The fact that he announced his decision at the Ferozshah Kotla ensured it was a memorable farewell � Kumble took 58 wickets in seven Tests at Kotla, including all 10 against Pakistan in 1999.

"Delhi [Images] has been special. I have fond memories of Delhi as a cricketer and also a team member," recalled Kumble, before adding, "Ideally, I would have liked to finish the series here."

Now that he has hung up his boots, how does he look back at his career in hindsight?

"I have done pretty well in my career. I can proudly say that I have given my 100 per cent right throughout my career," said Kumble. "I had to go through a lot of things early in my career. People questioned me on my ability, fitness, form etc. But my self-belief kept me motivated.

"The second phase of my career was certainly more satisfying -- because we won many Tests away from home."

And how would he be liked to be remembered as?

"I like to be remembered for putting the team before the self and as one who raised the bar for the team," said Kumble, confidence personified.

His Test career might have seen the curtains but Kumble will be playing -- in the Indian Premier League [Images].

"IPL is a contractual obligation, so I will play in it," he justified. "But in terms of international and first class cricket, I am through."

And also through is another chapter in Indian cricket history, a chapter that is unparalleled, or, as Kris Srikkanth put it, "will be very difficult to replace".

Complete coverage: Australia in India 2008

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