What do you say to the final retirement of the most retired man in cricket? Veteran left-arm medium fast bowler Ashish Diwansingh Nehra is the only current Indian player who debuted in the last millennium and he has been retiring in some form or the other for the last 13 years.
Nehra retired from Test cricket in 2004, from ODIs in 2011 and from First Class cricket in 2014. Funnily despite all that he is still going strong in the young man's game of slam bang T20 cricket.
Many were surprised that Nehra was picked for the T20 series with New Zealand and many more were taken aback when he announced his retirement from that format too. Nehra has been around for donkey’s years and one thought that he would be around for a few years more. He had earlier expressed his desire to play till 40.
But as he stated quite succinctly: It's always good to retire when people are asking "Why?" rather than "Why Not?"!
Nehra made his debut in Test cricket in 1999 and didn't really get going in his brief 5-year career, never taking a 5-wicket innings haul. He had better luck in the ODI field and he shot to fame in the 2003 ODI World Cup.
India made a competitive 250/9 in a league match with England and our opposition was shot out for 168 thanks to an astonishing 6-23 by Nehra who single-handedly demolished the entire middle order. England was 107-8 at one stage and rearguard action by Andrew Flintoff saw them cross the half-way mark.
England never recovered from that assault and failed to make it to the Super Sixes in that year as India sailed to the final only to be stopped by Australia. Nehra took another 6-wicket haul within the final of the 2005 Indian Oil Cup.
Nehra was also involved in a run out as Sri Lanka still made 281/9. Had it not been for Nehra, they the Lankans would have probably raced away to 350, but even that proved to be too much for the Indian batsmen in the end.
But till date Nehra remains the only Indian bowler to get two six-wicket hauls in ODIs and he managed to get more than 150 ODI wickets before he retired in that format.
Nehra was in and out of the national team and was the ultimate comeback man in Indian cricket. But he got to go out in great style being part of the winning 2011 ODI World Cup squad.
He took a decent 2-33 in the semis and was unlucky to miss the final due to a broken finger. One vividly remembers the huddle of players in the dressing room with Nehra raising his injured hand to prevent it from further damage.
Nehra continued to be involved with cricket as he embraced the T20 format in both internationals and the IPL. Nehra has 34 wickets in 26 international T20s and he showed that an old dog still has new tricks when his 3-wicket haul helped us win a match against England at the beginning of the year.
He took another 3-wicket haul in the first match against Bangladesh in the T20 Asia Cup as we won that tournament too and it was another feather in Nehra’s cap.
Of course Nehra's solidest stint has probably been with the IPL where he has picked up 106 wickets in 88 matches with the best being 4-10. That 4-wicket haul came when his team CSK had made 181 and they were facing the batting powerhouse of the RCB. Nehra also became the oldest bowler to reach 100 IPL wickets.
Nehra has played for the Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Pune Warriors India, Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. 2011 was a good year for Nehra. Apart from being part of the World Cup winning squad, he also bagged Rs 3.9 crore in the IPL auction.
In the 2014 edition that went down to 2 crores but in 2016 it was up to Rs 5.5 crores!
Retiring from international cricket is fine, but one is quite surprised at Nehra’s call to quit IPL too. The IPL has a huge 40s club that includes the likes of Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Muthiah Muralitharan and Brad Hogg.
That way Nehra is just 38, but then again the going gets much tougher for faster bowlers. Just look at Zaheer Khan who couldn’t go beyond the same age. But one never knows.
What if Nehra does indeed play in IPL 2018? Then his final retirement party would be postponed yet again! After all, this man has seen the exit of every captain in Indian cricket from Mohammed Azharuddin to MS Dhoni.
But still all eyes will be on the New Zealand T20 series starting Wednesday when Nehra will try to go out in style one last time!