MUMBAI, February 5: Mumbai batsman Sanjay Manjrekar has announced his retirement from first-class cricket. In a decision that came as a surprise to team members, the 32-year-old Manjrekar said the Mumbai-Australia three-dayer from February 24 would be his final hurrah.
``I am retiring from first-class cricket after the Australian game,'' he revealed to newsmen at the Wankhede Stadium as the opening day's play of the Ranji Trophy Super League between Mumbai and Railways was heading toward close.
``I've always promised myself that I would play as long as I'm motivated. But the fire is not burning anymore. The motivation is not there,'' he said while explaining his decision to quit. ``I've yet to decide on my future plans,'' he added.
Considered to be one of the most technically accomplished batsmen when he began his career, Manjrekar raised 2043 runs in 37 Tests at an average of 37.14 with four centuries, all of which came on foreign soil. His best was 218 against Pakistan at Lahore in the 1989 series. Hehad made his debut against Vivian Richards' West Indies at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi in 1987.
The son of former Indian batting great Vijay Manjrekar has played 74 one-dayers. He has scored 1994 runs (average: 33.23) with 15 fifties. His only century (105) was made against South Africa at Delhi in 1991.
Manjrekar last played in a Test match at Ahmedabad in November 1996 against South Africa and his last appearance in a One-Day International was against the same rivals in the Titan Cup final here on Nov 5. In Ranji Trophy, Manjrekar has amassed 3638 runs in 50 matches till date with nine centuries and 18 half centuries.
Manjrekar had discussed about his decision to quit with the Mumbai skipper Sachin Tendulkar, coach Balwinder Singh Sandhu and the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) joint secretary Prof Ratnakar Shetty before revealing it to the media and the team.
Tendulkar, however, said that the Mumbai players would be requesting him to delay his retirement plans till the end of the season. ``It wouldhave been a tough decision to make. We would like to give him some more time before requesting him to play till the end of the season. We will try to get him back,'' opined the Mumbai skipper.
While terming him an outstanding batsmen, Tendulkar was hard-pressed for words when queried about Manjrekar's stature. ``He was there when I began my first-class career and also during my first Test series in Pakistan. The scores are not always the right indicator of a player's abilities. He carried himself well and was always prepared to take up the challenge. It is very hard to express what I feel,'' he said.
``He was one of the most technically correct batsman but the treatment meted out to him was unjust. There is so much of chopping and changing in the Indian team in recent times that I felt he should have waited for some more time before deciding to retire,'' remarked former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar.
The Mumbai coach, Balwinder Sandhu, who with Manjrekar guided the team to their 33rd Ranji success lastseason, perceived that he had the potential to lead the country. ``He had shown tremendous improvement in leadership skills, be it handling the players or guiding them. In my opinion, he would have been one of the best Indian captains,'' he said of Manjrekar. ``He was too good a player to be left out,'' Sandhu added.
``We had a long discussion about it yesterday,'' informed Shetty. ``He feels quite low and he doesn't want to come in the way of any youngster,'' he added. The MCA joint secretary scotched rumours doing the round that Manjrekar had probably taken the decision eyeing a future as a television commentator. ``He hasn't got any television commitment so far,'' replied Shetty when queried about the issue. Manjrekar had made his debut as a television commentator during the Abid Ali benefit match between an Indian XI and a Sri Lankan XI at the Wankhede Stadium last Tuesday.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.