Former Indian seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji has announced his retirement from first-class and List A cricket, but added that he is still keeping the doors open for smaller T20 leagues.
According to ESPNcricinfo, Balaji will soon meet Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president N. Srinivasan to formally announce his retirement.
“I have taken a decision on not playing senior-level cricket any longer in any format. I have asked the TNCA to not pick me for the Tamil Nadu team this season. I am still looking to continue playing the smaller leagues, but let’s see how it goes,” Balaji confirmed.
The 34-year-old, who made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in the 2001-02 season against the Colombo District Cricket Association, scalped 37 wickets in his maiden first-class season. He also finished as the joint highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy in the following season, taking a total of 47 wickets.
Balaji has appeared in 106 first-class matches overall, and took 330 wickets, including 16 five-fers and four ten-wicket hauls, at an average of 26.10.
Balaji, who went on to make a Test debut in October 2003 against New Zealand in Ahmedabad, also captained Tamil Nadu for three seasons - 2011-12 to 2013-14, with the side also reaching the finals of the Ranji Trophy in 2011-12.
“I think I have been part of some very interesting matches.I picked up a five-for in the second innings against a team that featured three, four Test players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Aakash Chopra. My spell of 6 for 24 against Bengal in 2008-09 [Ranji Trophy quarter-final] was also very special,” said Balaji of his cricket career.
The Tamil Nadu seamer featured in eight Test matches between 2003 to 2005, grabbing a total of 27 wickets at an average of 37.18. His best performance in Tests came in three-match series against Pakistan in 2004, when he took 12 wickets, including a haul of seven for 171 in the decisive Rawalpindi Test, which India went on to win by 2-1.
Besides Tests and first-class cricket, Balaji also made 29 ODI appearances between November 2002 and August 2005, before suffering a career-threatening stress fracture for which he also underwent back surgery.
However, he made a comeback to the Indian side after being picked for the ODIs against Sri Lanka in 2009, but featured in only one match in the series.