Hyderabad: Stylish batsman V.V.S. Laxman Saturday ended all speculation about his career by announcing his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect, barely a week after he was named in the squad for the two-Test series against New Zealand, starting here next week.
"I have decided to retire from international cricket with immediate effect," Laxman said at a crowded news conference here.
It was being speculated that the genial Hyderabadi would announce his retirement after playing the first Test against the Black Caps at home or after the series.
"I feel it is the right time to move on. It is the right time to give the opportunity to youngsters. It was a tough decision to take. I have always listened to my inner conscience. I have always done that right through my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. But I don't regret my decision," said Laxman adding that it was a conscious decision.
"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."
The right-handed batsman, who was accompanied by his parents, wife and children, said he had conveyed his decision to the Indian cricket board president N. Srinivasan and the chairman of selectors K. Srikkanth Saturday morning - both reluctantly accepted his decision.
"It has been 16 long years since I made my international debut for India. I have always kept the country's success and need ahead of my personal aspirations and hence while I would have loved to be contributing to the team's success against England and Australia later in the season, I think it's the right time to give opportunity to groom a youngster in home conditions before the tough tours overseas next year," said the 37-year-old.
"I informed the chairman of selectors this morning that I would not continue playing for India. I also spoke to many of my teammates, they were surprised that I was retiring before the series. It was all very emotional."
The wristy strokemaker represented India in 134 Tests, scoring 8,781 runs at 45.97. He played one of the most memorable innings of 281 runs at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in 2001 against Australia setting up a stunning victory for India after following on, ending Australia's consecutive 16-match winning streak.
"It has been an emotional, fabulous and memorable journey which I will definitely cherish for rest of my life," said Laxman while trying to overcome the emotions.
He denied that some comments by former cricketers turned commentators about him prompted him to announce his retirement. Some commentators had remarked that his selection deprived an opportunity to youngsters.
"Right from the start of my career lot of people wrote negative about me but more people and my well wishers wrote positive. In a country where cricket is more of a religion than a sport, satisfying everyone is next to impossible," he remarked.
The Hyderabadi said it was because of his inner voice that he choose cricket as a career.
"At 17, I wanted to become a doctor but my inner voice wanted me to become a cricketer. Common sense would have been to prefer medicine over cricket as it was a gamble as a career option but I listened to the inner voice," he said.
The stylish batsman also apologized to his family and fans for disappointing them by not playing his last test in Hyderabad.
Laxman said he would like to give back to the game by contributing to the Hyderabad team. He plans to play for the home side this season with a dream to win Ranji Trophy and is also keen to groom the team members.
Laxman said while his knock of 281 against Australia at Kolkata was memorable and give him inspiration, he did not like to single out any knock. "Any inning which helped the team to win and saved it from dire straits is close to me."
He refused to speak about the disappointing moments of his career. "This is the time to cherish my fabulous journey. Very few people get an opportunity to represent the country for such a long time."
Stating that his first priority is to spend some time with his family, the cricketer did not rule out writing an autobiography. He said he would like to share his joy and experiences with his well wishers.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) decided to name the north stand of Uppal stadium after him, while its president G. Vinod appealed to Laxman to reconsider his decision and play his last test in Hyderabad.