Swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag, the only Indian batsman ever to score a triple century in Test match cricket, announced his international retirement on Tuesday (20).
More than two years after last appearing for his country, Sehwag accepted that there would be no emotional comeback as he became the latest member of India’s World Cup-winning team to call it a day.
“God has been kind and I have done what I wanted to do,” he said in a statement on his 37th birthday after again being overlooked by the selectors for the ongoing series against South Africa.
“Cricket has been my life and continues to be so. Playing for India was a memorable journey and I tried to make it more memorable for my team mates and the Indian cricket fans.”
The right-handed batsman also confirmed he was retiring from the Indian Premier League (IPL), an annual Twenty20 tournament that takes place in April and May.
Reports, however, said Sehwag would continue to play first-class cricket for his state side Haryana in the domestic Ranji Tropy competition.
After making his debut against South Africa in 2001, Sehwag became one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket, forming part of a formidable line-up that also included Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly.
Sehwag is widely credited with transforming the role of opening batsman in Test cricket with a hard-hitting style that brought him a top score in Test matches of 319, against South Africa in Chennai in 2008.
While his sometimes unorthodox style often infuriated the purists, he resisted pressure to temper his aggression at the top of the order.
“I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and apologise for not accepting most of it,” he joked on Tuesday. “I had a reason for not following it, I did it my way!”
The Delhi-born batsman was twice named the world’s leading player by the Wisden cricketers’ almanack. He played a total of 104 Tests, scoring 8,586 runs at an average of 49.34.
He also played 251 ODIs, scoring 8,273 runs at an average of 35.05. He at one stage held the record for the highest score in 50-over internationals after plundering 219 against the West Indies.
Although he had not played for his country since a Test against Australia in 2013, many fans yearned for his return to the national side, with which he also won the 2011 50-over World Cup on home soil.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who captained India to victory in 2011, led the tributes to his former team-mate as he compared Sehwag to West Indies batting legend Vivian Richards.
“Didn’t see Viv Richards bat in person but I can proudly say I have witnessed Virender Sehwag tearing apart the best bowling attacks,” Dhoni wrote on Twitter.
Tendulkar, who retired in 2013, said Sehwag had been a joy to watch and play with.
Writing on Twitter, Tendulkar said that he “had the best seat during most of his superlative performances on field”.
“Loved his instinctive approach to batting and life,” he added.
Sehwag was dropped from the national side after a string of poor performances with the bat. He continued to hold out hope of a comeback but only fired intermittently on the domestic circuit.
His announcement came just five days after his World Cup teammate and bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan said he was quitting international cricket.
Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Harbhajan Singh were the only survivors of the 2011 World Cup to be named on Monday in the ODI and Test squads chosen to play the touring South Africans.
Sehwag has already signed up for a veterans’ Twenty20 competition due to be held in the United Arab Emirates next year alongside the likes of former West Indies captain Brian Lara and Australia’s Adam Gilchrist.