Ashish Nehra announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on Thursday. Nehra, 38, will play his final game on his home ground, The Feroz Shah Kotla, in Delhi on November 1st. The 1st T20I against New Zealand will see Nehra play his last competitive game and end an 18 year long illustrious career. His career has been filled with an abundance of ups and downs. But if we look back carefully, we’ll notice that Ashish Nehra has had very impactful performances at important times in Indian Cricket.
Nehra’s Glorious Career
24th Feb 1999 was the day Nehra made his debut against Sri Lanka at the SSC under the captaincy of Mohd Azharuddin. He is the only Indian cricketer still playing who made his debut pre-2000’s. Throughout his career, he has had a long list of injuries which amounted to 12 surgeries. But he will always be known for making a comeback from each one of those surgeries. He has been one of the most determined and passionate cricketers India has seen and is an inspiration to the younger generations.
Nehra has been instrumental in three of India’s World Cup campaigns. He had a very impressive 2003 World Cup where India reached the finals. His spell of 6 for 23 against England is still one of the best bowling figures by an Indian in ODIs. After that golden period, Nehra was plagued with injuries from 2005-2009 which ruled him out of cricket for a long time. But this only encourage him to make a thrilling comeback to the Indian team in the lead-up to the 2011 World Cup. Though he injured his finger before the finals, his performances leading upto the final were invaluable.
Post the 2011 World Cup, another set of injuries ruled him out of cricket for a while. Yet again, rejuvenated Nehra burst back onto the scene for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL and later went on to lead the Indian attack in the 2016 World T20 Championship. This time, he made a comeback as a senior cricketer and his impact has been felt both on and off the field. He has been instrumental in the growth of the young Indian pace attack that is dominating World cricket today.
Nehra speaks out on His Retirement:
“I have spoken to the team management as well as the chairman of selection committee. It can’t get bigger than getting to retire in front of your home crowd,” Nehra said in an interview ahead of the third T20I against Australia.
“No particular reason. At one point everyone knows [that it is time to quit]. It’s not an overnight decision,” Nehra added when asked about the reason for his retirement. “It’s my own decision. I have given it a good thought. 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 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.”
He also went on to say that the future of Indian Cricket is in good hands. “I feel Bhuvneshwar [Kumar] 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. 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 [Jasprit] 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. I came prepared to play in this series, but I also put across my point of view. If they ask me to play in the XI, I’m available.”
Nehra’s opinion on playing only the IPL:
Nehra said he consulted Skipper Virat Kohli and Coach Ravi Shastri before making the decision. “Like I said, I put my point of view to them,” he said. “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.”
“[My second coming since 2016] has been great. Like, in between, 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 [players] can play at a time, and if you combine all formats maybe 20-25. I was still playing IPL regularly. Last two-three years has been a great journey. I always feel it is not how you start, but how you finish.”
“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.” He added.
In Nehra’s own words, ‘The true measure of success is how many times you bounce back from failure’. This statement encapsulates Nehra’s career and his approach to life. On Nov 1st, we will see a man who gave it his all for his country and never gave up. He will always be remembered for his grit and determination to keep fighting. Hopefully, we can draw inspiration from him and his memorable career.