Nehra to retire from all forms of cricket
Ashish Nehra will end his 18-year international career with the New Zealand T20I at his home ground, Feroz Shah Kotla, on November 1. The 38-year-old Nehra was one of the few remaining active internationals among those who started their career in the 1990s. He is also set to retire from domestic and T20 cricket, ending his involvement in the Indian Premier League, where his performances had helped lead to an international comeback in 2016.
Through his career, Nehra had to fight injuries. It was a marvel he played as long as he did after 12 surgeries and many other small setbacks. He often jokes that the injuries aren’t on his body; his body is stuck somewhere in the injuries. Nehra’s many comebacks and his awareness of his body is spoken of as an example by his contemporaries. Despite all the injuries, he made comebacks to be a World Cup winner in 2011 and then to lead India’s attack all the way to the semi-final of the World T20 in 2016.
Nehra made his international debut in a Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo in December 1999, and for a few years was a consistent presence in India’s limited-overs line-ups. He was a critical part of India’s run to the final of the 2003 World Cup. His 6 for 23 against England in that event – even as he fought illness and vomited on the sidelines – remain the best figures by an Indian in World Cups.
Injuries soon struck. Between September 2005 and June 2009, for instance, Nehra did not play a single international match for India, but gradually made a comeback in the lead-up to the 2011 World Cup. Even in that tournament, he broke his finger while going for the catch of Pakistan’s last hope, Misbah-ul-Haq, in the semi-final. He missed the final.
When fit, though, Nehra was considered one of the smartest quicks to have played for India. Alongside Zaheer Khan, Nehra was a mentor for many a young quick. In a recent interview with ESPNcricinfo, Nehra admitted he wasn’t sure “how long I can play for”. While this retirement announcement was largely expected, he didn’t rule out some sort of coaching role in the future as he likes to “share experience”.
The most telling statement in the interview was: “The only one thing that is not happy that I am still playing is my body. I can play for another couple of years but it isn’t easy for a fast bowler at 38-39, especially considering the state of my body. At times when I wake up, especially in the winter in Delhi, my knees are so sore, it is half an hour before I can even leave my bed and am able to walk. I have had four surgeries in my ankle, plus my knee is always sore. But again, after half an hour or so I say to myself that I have to do it.”
Perhaps looking at the fast-bowling strength India have now – Nehra didn’t find a place in the XI in the first two matches against Australia – Nehra decided it was time to give a well-deserved break to his tormented body.