Hurt Ambati Rayudu retires after World Cup snub
Ambati Rayudu has scored 1694 runs in 55 ODIs for India, with three centuries and ten half-centuries to his name.Updated: Jul 04, 2019 08:25 IST
Humiliated by the national cricket selectors after being ignored for the World Cup, India batsman Ambati Rayudu announced his retirement from all forms of the game on Wednesday. Controversially left out of the original squad, the 33-year-old was not considered as a replacement when India lost opener Shikhar Dhawan to thumb injury and even when Vijay Shankar was out due to a broken toe, Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal—yet to play an ODI—called up instead. Rayudu has the reputation as a temperamental player following many confrontations in the domestic circuit, though there was no bitterness while announcing his retirement.
“I would like to bring to your kind notice that I have come to (a) decision to step away from the sport and retire from all forms and levels of the game,” he said in an email to BCCI.
“It has been an honour and privilege to have represented our country. I would like to thank the captains I have played under, MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and especially Virat Kohli who always had shown great belief in me throughout my career with the Indian team. It has been a wonderful journey of playing the sport and learning from every up and down it brought up, for the last 25 years at various different levels,” said the player, hailing from Andhra Pradesh.
A solid middle-order batsman, Rayudu was seen early in his career as one with great potential. But a volatile temperament hurt his career at crucial junctures.
Not in his nature to hold back, a sarcastic tweet in April was damaging. He tweeted that he planned to buy ‘3D’ spectacles to watch the World Cup—a dig at chief selector, MSK Prasad, who said all-rounder Vijay Shankar was chosen ahead of Rayudu due to his ‘three-dimensional’ abilities.
To add insult to injury, Rayudu was not called up even after Shankar was injured and India needed to bolster their batting. Rayudu called it quits the day Agarwal joined up with the team in England.
Gautam Gambhir criticised the selectors. “The selectors have been a complete disappointment this World Cup. Rayudu’s retirement decision is because of them and their decision-making skills are to be blamed for this,” he said.
“Five selectors combined would not have made the runs Rayudu has in his career. I feel extremely sad about this retirement. Pant and Agarwal got selected amidst the World Cup injuries, and anyone in Rayudu’s place would have felt equally bad. A cricketer like him that has played so well in IPL and for the nation, scored three 100s and ten 50s … despite that if a player has to retire, it is a sad moment for Indian cricket.”
VVS Laxman, who was Rayudu’s senior in the Hyderabad team and was snubbed for the 2003 World Cup, tweeted: “Can understand the pain and anguish Ambati Rayudu may be feeling after the World Cup snub even after performing well. I wish him lots of happiness and peace in his second innings.”
Virender Sehwag too felt for Rayudu: “Must definitely be very painful at being ignored for the World Cup for #AmbatiRayudu but I wish him all the very best in life after retirement.”
Rayudu never had it easy once he graduated to senior cricket. In frustration, he joined the rebel Indian Cricket League and was banned, but sought amnesty from BCCI and returned to its fold. IPL proved the perfect platform and the professional in him thrived, first for Mumbai Indians and then for Chennai Super Kings. However, he was in and out of the India ODI team. Then, he had a superb 2018 IPL that the selectors were forced to take notice. But it has also proved another bitter experience.
When he looks back at his career, the decision to quit first-class cricket in 2018 will be seen as a blunder. Absolutely sure of India selection, he wanted to stay fresh for one final effort at the World Cup. Going through the first-class grind, however, is important to stay at the top of the game and Rayudu lost rhythm when he returned to international cricket after a gap in January. He failed in the Australia ODI leg, and though he did well in the New Zealand ODIs that followed, he flopped in the first three games of the home series against Australia in March, the final audition for World Cup. The writing was on the wall when he was benched from the last two ODIs against Australia.
Still, Rayudu hasn’t done that badly to be completely ignored for India. In 55 ODIs, he averages 47.05, a mighty impressive figure. He could still look to play IPL, or in other T20 leagues now that he is retired.
First Published: Jul 03, 2019 13:18 IST