An emotional Naman Ojha struggled to hold back tears on Monday as he bade adieu to all forms of cricket, bringing down curtains on a two-decade long illustrious domestic career.
The 37-year-old from Madhya Pradesh, who holds the record for the most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in the Ranji Trophy, featured in one Test, one ODI and two T20 Internationals.
"I would like to announce my retirement from international and BCCI/MPCA domestic first-class cricket," a teary-eyed Ojha said in a virtual press conference.
"After 20 years in first-class cricket and many more during the junior competitions, I feel it's time for me to move on. It was a long journey and wonderful phase of my life.
"I am grateful to all who supported me in achieving dream of playing for my country and state - my coaches, trainers, physios and selectors, my captains and teammates, my family and well wishers, and MPCA & BCCI," he added.
Ojha said he is eager to ply his trade in global T20 leagues. As per the BCCI rules, he is now eligible for such leagues, having announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
"While I leave the competitive format of game for my state and country with best of memories, I shall be keen to wear the gloves and face the ball in global competitions," he said.
"I had started facing issue while keeping in the longer format of the game in the past two years. So, if I focus on T20 globally, it will be better for my body." Ojha made his international debut in 2010 in his only ODI against Sri Lanka, followed by his first T20I match in Zimbabwe a week later.
His lone Test came in 2015 against Sri Lanka in Colombo and the top-order batsman rued not being able to play for his country more.
"I had a lot of fun in my career. It was a little unfortunate that I didnt play for India more. Apart from that I have no regrets," he said.
Although Ojha's international career never took off, the Ujjain-born player has played 146 first-class games notching up 9,753 runs with 22 hundreds and 55 half centuries at an average of 41.67 in a career spanning two decades from 2000-01 to 2020.
The right-hand batsman has been excellent in the domestic circuit both with the gloves and bat. In the 143 List A and 182 T20s games, Ojha amassed 4,278 and 2,972 runs respectively.
A clean striker of the ball, Ojha featured in 113 Indian Premier League matches, turning out for Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals).
He was part of the title winning Sunrisers Hyderabad side in 2016. Ojha credited the cash-rich league for "stabilising" his cricket career.
"IPL was a boon for us, it gave us a stabilisation in our cricketing career. Because if you want to prosper in your cricketing career, you require financial help. IPL gave me that and I used it in the right direction, training, batting, etc and that is why I was able to play Test." Ojha last appeared in a Ranji Trophy match for MP against Uttar Pradesh in January last year. He had captained MP in that Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match in Indore.
"I have had a wonderful time on field. My unfulfilled dream of winning Ranji Trophy for my state shall pinch me forever. But I see great potential in new generation cricketers who can achieve this with triumphant performances," he said.