Kolkata , December 30 : Bengal’s versatile all rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla have announced his retirement from first class cricket . In a decision which many believe have been influenced by the recent criticism of the Bengal senior cricketer after Bengal’s dismal show at the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy . The announcement comes as a surprise as he was named in the Bengal squad for Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy couple of days back . A former India cricketer , Laxmi have played 137 first class matches scoring 6217 runs at an average of 35.93 . He scored 9 hundreds and 37 fifties . The all rounder also took 172 wickets including a best bowling of 6/86 . The all rounder announced his retirement at the Mohun Bagan Club , flanked by his six year old son Agastya .
On being asked what might have influenced him to cut short his career , a visibly emotional Laxmi commented ,“ I wasn’t getting the push from within to play any more . For last one month, I was not getting the right motivation… Not feeling myself, the link was missing,I am a firm believer of giving opportunity to youngsters and I felt I was not doing justice holding my place in the side .”
Laxmi , who made his Ranji debut for Bengal way back in 1997-98 season against Maharashtra was not feeling the desire to carry on playing for the state team . “ I represented Bengal for last 18 years . I always enjoyed playing for Bengal and I owe it to the Cricket Association of Bengal for giving me this opportunity . It was tough for me to take such a decision , but I must admit it was completely a personal decision .”
Asked why he chose his club tent and not his company of Bengal teammates in Eden Gardens to call it a day, Shukla said: “I started cricket alone and I want to leave alone. I don’t want to involve anyone. I’ve no regrets.”
Laxmi ,who had an offer to play elsewhere , chose to stay with his native state . “ I must admit , whatever I am today is all because of playing cricket for Bengal . I used to ride bi-cycle to go for training at my coach Kalyanda’s academy . But now I have my own car . ”
He attributed his success to former India captain and now the president of the CAB , Sourav Ganguly , “ I have followed him since my childhood days . He was always an inspiration for me and happen to be the best captain I played under .”
Asked whether he will be seen in politics in the near future , he rubbished the offer “I will continue playing club cricket . I am also involved with various social works . But definitely I am not going to be involved in politics .”
Laxmi rose into prominence playing for India under-19 team for the MTN Youth World Cup in South Africa in 1998. He went on to play for India two years later . But had a rude awakening to the realities of international cricket when he was plundered for 32 runs in the four overs he bowled at the Sri Lankans on his debut in the Pepsi Cup later that same season. He put up a marginally better performance in his next match against West Indies in the Coca-Cola Singapore Challenge. But after that he has been ignored by the selectors.
Asked whether he had any regrets not being called again to represent the country , “ I really have no regrets whatsoever . I had my time and have to be grateful with .” He had some match winning performances for Bengal over the years . Who can forget his 106* from 90 balls he scored against Mumbai in the finals of Vijay Hazare Trophy to help Bengal win the coveted trophy in 2012 . He is the only cricketer from Bengal to have represented the state in 100 Ranji matches , and is one of the few players with a double of 5000 runs and 150 wickets in Ranji Trophy arena. He did not regret winning a Ranji Trophy for Bengal , although he came very close on a couple of occasions in 2005-06 and 2006-07 season . He also represented Kolkata Knight Riders , Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise in the Indian Premier League . Lastly he thanked all his coaches , team mates he played with and wished to be remembered as a cricketer who fought his lone battle . True , Bengal cricket will forever miss a fighter called Laxmi Ratan Shukla .