Ashish Nehra believes that walking away from the game at his home venue in Delhi, where he made his Ranji Trophy debut 20 years ago, is the perfect way to sign off on his career. The Delhi pacer has also added that there is no point playing in the IPL if he does not play for India.
Today, Nehra announced his decision to retire from all forms of cricket after the first T20I against New Zealand, scheduled to be played at his home ground in Delhi on November 1. The match will give the wily Delhite a chance to bid goodbye to his international career from where it all started - the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi. And understandably, he was quite happy to play his last match in front of his home crowd.
"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 on 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," Nehra said on Thursday (October 12), on the eve of the third T20I between India and Australia in Hyderabad.
"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."
Nehra made his international debut in 1999 under Mohammad Azharuddin’s captaincy in a Test match against Sri Lanka in Colombo and has represented the country in 17 Tests, 120 One-Day Internationals and 26 T20Is. He has picked up 44 Test wickets, along with 157 ODI and 34 T20I wickets. He found great success in ODIs during the course of 2001-2005 and will be best remembered for his spell of 6 for 23 against England in the 2003 World Cup, a match he played despite being unwell. He kept himself motivated for almost two decades despite going through the fast-bowling occupational hazard, injuries, more than anyone else.
"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 how to come back up after a failure. People have always said that you've had 11-12 surgeries, how you made a comeback despite that. But they have made me mentally strong. When you make a century or take a five-for, everyone is with you but your 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," he said.
"Every individual has certain strengths and certain weaknesses. I was always mentally strong. I am that sort of a person who trains day in and day out to play for India. Like I said, I could have played easily one more year of international cricket. People said you are retiring in November, you can still play the next IPL which is just five months away. But it's my decision that if I leave, I will leave completely, I won't even play the IPL."
Nehra last played for India during the home T20I series against England in January this year. After being omitted for tours of the Caribbean and Sri Lanka, the left-arm seamer was recalled for three T20Is against Australia but hasn’t been fielded yet.
“I have given it (retirement) a good thought, especially with the way Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah have been bowling over the past six months,” he said. “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 or anything. 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.”