India discard Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Andhra starting on Thursday at the Feroz Shah Kotla here will be his last game.
"The next Ranji Trophy match against Andhra will be my last game in the sun. It is all coming to an end from where it started at Feroz Shah Kotla," Gambhir said in a video message on social media.
"As a batsman, I have always valued timing. I know the time is just right and I am sure it's sweet as well," he added.
The 37-year-old Delhi batsman has played 58 Tests (4154 runs), 147 One-Day Internationals (5238 runs) and 37 Twenty20 Internationals. He has also played 197 first-class matches.
While reflecting on some of the high points of his career, Gambhir admitted that the dreaded feeling that his ability to play at the highest level is decreasing has haunted him for some time.
"Grounds, dressing rooms, washrooms, you name it the thought has rarely deserted me. Each time I got out playing for India or KKR or Delhi Daredevils this thought would turn into a sharp, disturbing noise and walk with me all the way to the dressing room shouting: "IT IS OVER GAUTI".
"It slapped me hard when I got those three ducks in a row in 2014 IPL. Then again when I had a dreadful tour to England the same year. In 2016 I was on my knees again. I was dropped after the Rajkot Test match against England. But once again I refused to pay attention. I wanted to beat this noise. Instead of getting knocked down, I punished my body even more.
"After a decent 2017 domestic season, I entered this year's IPL with confidence as my best buddy. My feet seemed to have got fresh batteries. My head was still as a pond. And my game, roaring as a raging ocean. I thought all those negative noises were dead. But I was wrong. Six games of IPL for Delhi Daredevils it was back. And this time it was louder than before. Perhaps, my time was up. Yes, my time was up," he said.
"So, here I am, after more than 15 years of cricket for my country I want to retire from playing this beautiful game. Despite all the aches and pains; fears and failures I won't mind a repeat of this in my next life too. But obviously, with a few more wins for India, a few more hundreds and in the next life may be a few 5-wicket hauls as well."
While reflecting on the high points of his career, he said: "The historic series wins in New Zealand and in CB series in Australia will be reflected upon fondly. But I do hope the current Indian team Down Under can overshadow our feats. I won't say the list is satisfactory as I feel I was good enough for a lot more."
"This may sound a little wishful but then I have seen wishes do come true. Two World Cups, highest run-getter in finals of both these games is a stuff dreams are made of and I only had this dream of winning the World Cup for you all. I think someone up there was writing my script but looks like now he has run out of his ink.
"But along the way, he wrote some fascinating chapters. Somewhere on the top is being part of the number one Test team in the world. A trophy that I look at very fondly is the one that I got for being awarded ICC Test batsman of the year in 2009. For a purist like me it is a reward of somewhat knowing where my off-stump was," he added.
The former India opener also thanked everyone he has encountered during the course of his career.
"Next on my thank you list are the curators, groundsmen and numerous dressing room attendants across India. They toiled for little or minimal returns for what is essentially treated as a thankless job. I hope their life standards improve from that they are now. A big thanks to each one of you. I'd also like to thank numerous net bowlers who bowled to me so that I can become a better batsman. They travelled long distances just to help me practice. Thank you very much.
"My cricket coach Mr Sanjay Bhardwaj stood with me during thick and thin of life. Whenever in trouble I could count on him. "Sir, I don't know if I have you proud but I can assure you sir I gave it all that I had." Sanjay sir introduced me to the other coaching influence of my life, the late Mr Parthasarthy Sharma. He was an institution in the art of batting. A lot of credit for my ability to play spin bowling should go to him. I hope I was worth his time," he said.
"The thing that I will miss the most is the camaraderie of an Indian team's dressing room. It was a wonderful place to be in. Yes, there are pressures of international sport but then when you have team-mates like I had these pressures look elementary. I learnt heaps from each one of them. I will miss all of that and more. Thank you guys, you all will be my one, big family," he added.
"Thank you DDCA and BCCI for helping me realise my dreams. Thank you KKR for giving me an opportunity to express myself as a leader."
Gambhir also thanked the fans for their support.
"Along with this journey, I have fostered some meaningful partnerships. None more than with you guys, the supporters of Indian cricket, the most important stakeholders. I have always disapproved of the terms "fans" or "crowd". It's quite demeaning because I think at the end of the day it is you guys who make cricket or cricketers what they are," he said.
Talking about the support from his family, Gambhir said: "In the end, I'd like to thank all my family members for their love and support. My parents, grandparents, both the mamas and maamis, my wife and my two little angels who took all my tantrums and mood swings."
"I'd like to begin with the original talent scout of my family, my mom. It was she who took me to a proper cricket academy at the age of 10 and rest is history. In my tough times, Mom was and is my favourite punching bag. I am extremely sorry mom I have been an absolute jughead. My dad took more pressure than me whenever I played. He never shared with me but his colleagues would tell me he'd never watch TV when my game was on. Dad, you too can relax now."