Harbhajan Singh has announced his retirement from all formats of the game. In a video message he shared on his Twitter handle, the former India off-spinner said that “in many ways, I had already retired”, but because of his contract with Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, he was forced to push the retirement decision for later.
Harbhajan, now 41, made his international debut back in March 1998, in a Test match against Australia in Bengaluru, tallying for two scalps in an eight-wicket defeat. He went on to play 103 Tests, for a haul of 417 wickets – still the fourth-highest for India – at an average of 32.46, with an innings best of 8 for 84 and a match best of 15 for 217, both recorded in India’s marginal two-wicket win over Australia in the Chennai Test of 2001, which gave them a 2-1 win in an unforgettable series.
Harbhajan also featured in 236 ODIs from 1998 to 2015, taking 269 wickets at 33.35 and an economy rate of 4.31. He played 28 T20Is, taking 25 wickets at an average of 25.32 and an economy rate of 6.20. His overall total of 707 international wickets is the second-highest for India, only behind the stalwart Anil Kumble’s 953.
Stepping out on the field, wearing Indian jersey was the best part of my career – Bhaji
“There comes a time in your life when you must take some tough decisions and move ahead. I have been meaning to make this announcement for the last few years, but I was waiting for the right moment to share it with all of you: today, I am retiring from all formats of cricket,” he said. “In many ways, I had already retired as a cricketer, but hadn’t been able to make a formal announcement.
“It has been a beautiful journey over 25 years, right from the gullies of Jalandhar to becoming the Turbanator of India,” he said in the statement. “Nothing has been more motivating for me than stepping out on the field while wearing the India jersey.
“Like every [Indian] cricketer, even I wished to bid goodbye in an India jersey, but fate had something else in store for me. Irrespective of the side I represented, I have always given my 100% commitment to ensure my team finishes on top – whether it was India, Punjab, Mumbai Indians, CSK [Chennai Super Kings], KKR or the county teams of Surrey and Essex.”
“If you ask me about my cricket career, my first real happiness was the hat-trick I took in Kolkata, becoming the first Indian bowler to do so in a Test match. I also got 32 wickets in the three Tests in that series, which is still a record,” he said. “Following this, the T20 World Cup win 2007 and the [ODI] World Cup win in 2011 were most important for me. Those were moments that I can neither forget nor express in words as to how big that happiness was for me.”