Ashish Nehra waves to crowd after his retirement from all forms of cricket during the first T20 match against New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi, Nov. 1. (Manvender Vashist/PTI)
Just-retired India pacer Ashish Nehra has made it clear that his farewell from cricket was not decided by the selectors and he was the one who took a call on bidding adieu to the game, writes Abhishek Hore.
“When I started playing cricket, I didn’t take any selector’s permission. When I am leaving, I am not leaving with their permission,” Nehra said after his final game, the first T20 against New Zealand which India won by 53 runs last night.
The terse statement was in response to a question on chief selector M.S.K. Prasad’s comment a few days ago that Nehra had been told he would not be considered for selection beyond the T20 series against New Zealand.
“We have clearly communicated to the player, ie: Ashish Nehra, and to the team management that we are only looking at him till the New Zealand series,” Prasad had said.
Nehra walked into cricketing sunset, Nov. 1, after an 18-year injury-ravaged international career, which had witnessed many highs and lows.
“I heard this,” Nehra said when asked about Prasad’s comments.
“I don’t know. The chairman of selection committee has not spoken to me about this. You have asked me this question, and I can only tell you about my interaction with the team management.
“When I reached Ranchi, I told Virat about my plan, and his first reaction was, ‘Are you sure? You can still play IPL. You can play as coach-cum-player.’ I said no. I am retiring completely.”
The 38-year-old made it clear that he did not ask for a farewell game, calling himself lucky that he got one in front of his home crowd.
“I have been saying this again and again. Luckily this game happened to be in Delhi. I have not asked for a farewell game or anything. This is perhaps one way that God has rewarded me for all the hard work I have put in over the last eight-nine years.
“I hope Virat and coach Ravi Shastri are part of the team management because those are the people I spoke to. I have not spoken to any selector over this issue.”
Nehra said he was convinced about his decision to call it quits and was happy to see the progress made by Bhuvneshwar Kumar alongside Jasprit Bumrah, two of the best seam bowlers around in these conditions.
“When I went there, I went with my plan. I felt that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ready. If you had seen earlier, Bumrah and I have been playing.
“Even today people were wondering if Ashish Nehra will play or not, but if I was in the 15 today, I was obviously going to play. I didn’t come to just look around,” Nehra told reporters.
Nehra was asked about his absence from the limited-overs sides post the 2011 Word Cup triumph. The lanky seamer injured his finger in the semi-final, which proved to be his last ODI, while his next T20I came almost five years later, for the World T20 at home.
“I don’t know about myself but I am sure people outside would have thought if Ashish Nehra has retired or if he will ever play again,” Nehra said of that phase.
“My attitude was never say never. You should just keep pushing yourself and be ready when your turn comes. I was out for four years but I didn’t go and ask anybody why I was out.
I did whatever was in my control.”
“If you see the period of 2009, 2010 and 2011, I was the highest wicket-taker in one-dayers and T20s. Not just in India but in the world, I was in the top three. Then I got injured in the 2011 World Cup semi-final, and after that I didn’t play for three-four years.”