Ashish Nehra called time on his 18 year playing career on Thursday when he announced that he won’t be playing in any format beyond November 1, 2017. The date will be monumental for Nehra as he will be quitting the sport at his home venue in Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi with the first T20 in New Delhi. The left arm seamer has stated that his decision has been thought out and the reason for him retiring is down to Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s rise in the charts in the past five or six months.
Each time Nehra has been included in the T20 setup for India since the comeback in January, 2016, he has more or less played for the tricolour. Since January, he has played 18 matches of 26 that India have been involved in. But the change of order has been visible with the Australia series where Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah have been picked ahead of Nehra.
“There’s a particular reason [for my decision to retire], at one point everyone comes to know that it’s about time. It’s not an overnight decision. I have given it a good thought, especially looking at the way Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] and [Jasprit] Bumrah have been bowling over the past 5-6 months,” Nehra said on Thursday ahead of the third and deciding T20I between India and Australia in Hyderabad.
“I think this is the way forward, especially the manner in which Bhuvneshwar has been bowling. In the last couple of years, whenever I’ve played with Bumrah, either of Bhuvi or [Mohammed] Shami have had to sit out. So I think this is the right time [to retire] and I think people are welcoming it.”
Nehra believes bowing it from all formats of the game would be fitting to be done at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground as it is the venue where he made his Ranji Trophy debut 20 years ago. “When I came into this series, I had come prepared to bowl. The day I linked up with this squad, I spoke to the captain and coach [and told them] about my plan… because whenever Ashish Nehra is in the side, he plays in the XI, he doesn’t sit out, we’ve seen that in the T20s over the last couple of years.”
“I feel Bhuvneshwar is ready, the way he has been bowling, and there is no big event in the next five or six months, like a World Cup. It’s very important to me what people in the dressing room think. Now, they say you can easily play for one more year. I’ve been a believer of the fact that it’s always good to retire when people ask why and not why not. And it can’t get bigger than the fact that I’m retiring at home.”
“I put my point of view to them. This is how I feel and this is my thought. Obviously, I could still play. But the first thing Virat said was you can still play, then second thing he said you could play IPL. It’s good that people still think I can play. It was a tough decision for me, but they all respect my decision,” he further said.
Where each time that Nehra achieved a high, there came a low in the form of injuries. In his 18 years, four to five year spells were lost on the doctor’s table with injuries getting as worse as ankle trouble. Yet somehow Nehra has fought back to take the field and stay in contention for team place.
“For me the true measure of success is how many times you bounce back from failure. When you are always on top, you don’t know. The 11-12 surgeries have made me mentally strong. Character comes when you are not doing well and bounce back from it. It has made a difference even in my normal life, apart from my cricketing life.
“It [last two years] has been great. Unfortunately, the problem in India is people count you as playing only when you are playing international cricket or the IPL. In India only 15 can play at a time, and if you combine all formats maybe 20-25. I was still playing IPL regularly. Last 2-3 years has been a great journey.
“I always feel it is not how you start, but how you finish,” he concluded – rather fittingly.