Northampton, Aug 7: In an apparent snub to the BCCI, veteran Indian batsman Rahul Dravid on Saturday announced retirement from one-day and Twenty20 cricket after the England tour in dramatic circumstances hours after he was named in the squad for the ODI series and one-off T20 international.
Dravid, who made a surprise comeback into India's limited-overs squad for the five-match ODI series after being out of the side for two years, said in a statement that he was surprised to be chosen for the England series as he has not selected for two years.
"I am honoured and privileged to be selected in the Indian one-day team. Since I had not been picked for one-day cricket for the last two years, I was obviously a little surprised, to be honest, because I had not been picked," he said in a statement after India's warm-up match against Northamptonshire in which he did not play.
He said he now wants to concentrate on Tests in the future though he had not informed about it to the BCCI before his selection today. "At the end of this one-day series, I would like to announce my retirement from one-day and Twenty20 cricket and concentrate only on Test cricket. I had not informed the selectors or the Board of my desire to solely focus on Test cricket," he said.
"I am committed, as always to give my best to India in this one-day series and obviously the Test series that follows. "In the short term I am committed because now I have been picked for the series, but in the long term I think it is best for me and Indian cricket that I focus on Test cricket." As the two-day game between India vs Northamptonshire came to an end, nobody was prepared for this bombshell from Dravid.
The 38-year-old Dravid, who read out a statement and fielded limited questions, made it clear that he would honour the commitment to play in the one-off T20 International on August 31 and five-match ODI series starting September 3 but thereafter his career in Twenty20 and one-day internationals should be deemed as over.
Before closing his statement, Dravid emphasised that at this stage "purely and solely Test cricket is the right way to go" for him. Dravid, accompanied by team manager Anirudh Choudhry, fielded only two questions from the assembled mediapersons and was rather diplomatic with his answers.
Asked if the selectors speak to him before announcing his inclusion in the Indian ODI team, Dravid said, "As I said, I was a bit surprised and had not communicated to the selectors or board for I had not been playing one-day cricket."
According to informed sources, the selectors themselves did not have Dravid in mind when they assembled to pick the 16-member Indian ODI squad in Chennai earlier in the day. According to a selector "the name of Dravid suddenly cropped up while selecting the team and we all decided that he was the right person to be included in the squad".
Subsequently, it is reliably learnt, selectors got in touch with Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and sought his affirmation to the decision. Dhoni, according to sources, neither spoke in favour nor against the inclusion of Dravid. Dravid was also asked if he, who had always stood up for Indian cricket and did whatever was required of him, was now turning his back to the nation's call.
"A lot of people have done a lot for Indian cricket. When I look at my own team, some of my team-mates have contributed immensely. They would have tried their best for India in all circumstances," he said.
The day's events are likely going to cause a tremor for Dravid's decision is seen as a snub to selectors for ignoring and picking him whenever it suited them in ODI cricket.
Dravid, one of India's most successful ODI batsman ever with 10765 runs to his name from 339 matches at an average of 39.43 and inclusive of 12 centuries and 82 fifties has not been picked for the Indian side since the Champions Trophy match against the West Indies in Johannesburg, South Africa on September 30, 2009. He has not played any Twenty20 International match.
One of the first decisions of Dhoni as skipper was to drop him during the one-day series against Australia at home in 2007. Sourav Ganguly too was laid off at this stage and it was seen as Dhoni was finally trying to ease out seniors and build a team around young players.
However, whenever India seemed in trouble, especially in testing conditions, selectors turned to Dravid but when international cricket came to India, the right-handed batsman was conveniently dropped.
Dravid apparently is not prepared for this to happen to him again and to a situation when he plays in England but when the national team plays in familiar conditions at home, it's somebody else who replaces him in the playing eleven.
Though Dravid has publicly maintained that it did not hurt him that he was not part of India's World Cup winning campaign, it's unlikely he did not feel a twinge of regret on his exclusion. In the Caribbean recently, Dravid had said he felt India's winning the World Cup also owed to a lot of work which seniors like him and others such as Tendulkar, Ganguly and Anil Kumble did in the preceding decade of 2000.PTI