Well-renowned Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh has announced a complete retirement from the sport, ending a glorious career that lasted for over two decades. The 41-year-old off-spinner had made the announcement on Friday and said that he is finally communicating what has been on his mind for the past few years. Following his announcement, thousands of fans and fellow cricketers had reminisced about his historical achievements and contribution towards what has been the biggest sport in India.
Taking to social media, Harbhajan Singh said, "All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable. My heartfelt thank you, grateful." In a YouTube video posted along with his tweet, he said, "From the narrow lanes of Jalandhar to becoming the Turbanator of Team India, it has been a beautiful journey of past 25 years."
"Like all cricketers, I too wanted to bade adieu in Indian jersey but fate had something else in store for me", he added in the video. Harbhajan further said, "Mentally I had retired long back but couldn't announce it. I haven't been active in cricket for quite some time but due to my commitment with Kolkata Knight Riders, I wanted to stay with them in the IPL season but I had made up my mind during the season."
He stated, "For whichever team I have played, there has always been 100 per cent commitment from me to ensure that my team finishes at the top, whether it is India, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Surrey, or Essex County." Harbhajan had thanked his parents, his spiritual guru, his wife and children in the video and said he would now try to make up for the time he couldn't be there with them due to his cricketing commitments.
"My parents worked hard to fulfil my dreams. If I am born again, I would like to be born again as their son. My wife Geeta, your love completes me, you have seen the best and worst of me. You won't complain that I don't give you time anymore. I am happy that I will have time for my children and watch them grow up", he added. He also had recalled some of his best cricketing moments and shared how he felt when he made some glorious achievements.
He said, "In my cricket career, I was happy for the first time when I had taken a hat-trick in Kolkata and I became the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test cricket. I had also taken 32 wickets in three matches, which is still a record. Then the 2007 and 2011 World Cup wins were most important for me. Such memorable moments I can't forget in my life and I can't ever explain in words what it meant to me."
Following his announcement, several cricketers had praised Harbhajan Singh for his ace contribution to the sport. India's Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar said, "What a wonderful & fulfilling career, Bhajji! I first met you at India nets in '95 - over the years, we've been part of wonderful memories. You have been a great team man, playing with all your heart. Both on the field and off it - it is always fun to have you as part of any team. I cannot forget all those moments of laughter."
"You have done your best for India in your long career, we are all very proud of you. Wishing you happiness and success in the 'doosra' phase of your career", Sachin added. Reacting to Harbhajan's announcement, Indian spinner Ashwin said, "Well done on a stellar career bhajju pa! Good luck with what's in store." Batsman Shikhar Dhawan wrote, "Congratulations on a wonderful career Pajhi. Your contribution to cricket has been immense and it was a pleasure to play alongside you. Enjoyed our great moments together on and off the field. Wishing you luck for your next innings."
A recap of Harbhajan's spinning career and historical feats:
Known for his unique bowling style, Harbhajan Singh will always be a doyen of Indian cricket and he began his career in 1998. A native of Punjab, the veteran spinner, in his career spanning for 23 years, has bagged 417 wickets in 103 Tests, 269 wickets from 236 ODIs, and 25 wickets from 28 T20s. In Test cricket, Harbhajan Singh is the 14th highest wicket-taker on the global list and the fourth-highest wicket-taker of India behind Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434), and R Ashwin (427).
He made his Test debut against Australia in Bengaluru in March 1998 and he has taken most of his Test wickets (95 off 18 matches) against the Aussies followed by 60 wickets against South Africa, 56 against West Indies, 53 against Sri Lanka, and 45 against England. He had made his ODI debut against New Zealand at Sharjah in April 1998. With his unpredictable techniques of bowling, Harbhajan Singh had always been a gamechanger and had been of the Indian team had etched stellar milestones.
He had first taken a hat-trick wicket against Australia in 2001 at the age of 21 and he made his debut in the T20 World Cup in 2007, which India had won under MS Dhoni's debut captaincy. He was also part of the Indian team that lifted the ODI Cricket World Cup in 2011 after 28 years. He also had an illustrious career in the IPL where he joined Mumbai Indians in 2008 and he was part of the winning team that won the IPL title in 2013 and 2015.
In 2017, he was bought by the Chennai Super Kings, which won the title in 2018. Harbhajan Singh has conferred with India's prestigious civilian honour Padma Shri in 2009 and received the highest award for sports - Arjuna Award in 2003. As Harbhajan Singh has announced his complete retirement from cricket, it is likely that he would be inducted as a spinning coach by any of the IPL teams and he will also be continuing his venture in cinema, where he had acted in a couple of Tamil movies.
All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable.— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) December 24, 2021
My heartfelt thank you 🙏 Grateful .https://t.co/iD6WHU46MU
Bhajji! 🏏♥️ 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/JSgNHm6z9R— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) December 24, 2021
Congratulations on a wonderful career Pajhi 🤗 Your contribution to cricket has been immense and it was a pleasure to play alongside you 😊 Enjoyed our great moments together on and off the field. Wishing you luck for your next innings @harbhajan_singh pic.twitter.com/CRtxghzYLv— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) December 24, 2021
Well done on a stellar career bhajju pa! Good luck with what’s in store👍🏻👍🏻 https://t.co/IhJ0aWxg2O— Ashwin 🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) December 24, 2021
Hearty congratulations to my great mate @harbhajan_singh on a remarkable career! A tremendous exponent of off-spin, a gifted batsman and a true competitor who fashioned many a wonderful Indian victory. Best wishes for the future, Bhajji, go well! pic.twitter.com/xEMTpGBru3— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) December 24, 2021