Ambati Rayudu, the man who marched to his own beat

By all means, it is a sad end to a career that was initially expected to reach much greater heights given the genius Rayudu displayed for the India under-19 team.

Ambati Rayudu has always been a blend of genius and enigma.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Ambati Rayudu has always been a blend of genius and enigma. When the 33-year-old Hyderabad batsman announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on Wednesday via an email to the Hyderabad Cricket Association’s committee of administrators, it was the culmination of all the frustration he felt on not getting to represent India in the ongoing World Cup.

Rayudu first responded to the snub with his now infamous tweet: “Buying 3-D glasses to watch the coming World Cup,” a not-so-subtle reference to Board of Control for Cricket in India chief selector M. S. K. Prasad highlighting Vijay Shankar’s “three-dimensional attributes” when explaining the rationale behind picking the Tamil Nadu all-rounder over Rayudu.

READ| Ambati Rayudu announces retirement from all forms of cricket

Rayudu, arguably one of the most gifted batsmen Hyderabad has ever produced, groomed his skills under the tutelage of one of the finest coaches ever from the city, the late Vijaya Paul, who always believed that Rayudu is a cricketer who needs to be put in the “comfort zone to get the best out of him given his raw genius.”

“I personally believe that the best years for a cricketer, especially a batsman, are between 28 and 35. So, my gut feeling is that the best years are ahead of me. I have been very consistent in recent years and feel that I am at my peak as a batsman,” Rayudu told Sportstar in May 2018.

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Some of his teammates and officials in the HCA feel Rayudu – who represented Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Baroda and Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy and was often considered some sort of a rebel given the on-field altercations – should not have announced his retirement from first-class cricket last November. This in a way further squeezed the opportunities of being in the limelight with some desired consistency, they felt.

As has been the case throughout, Rayudu never really entertained any interviews with the media unless prodded occasionally.

So, not surprisingly, Rayudu, who flirted with the rebel ICL league in 2007 before being welcomed back by the BCCI in 2009, preferred to sending an e-mail to the HCA to the customary media briefing to bid adieu.

By all means, it is a sad end to a career that was initially expected to reach much greater heights given the genius he displayed for the India under-19 team as a 16-year-old on the England tour in 2002, when he slammed a brilliant 177.

Rayudu in figures:

55 ODis, 1694 runs, 3 centuries, 10 fifties, 47.05 avg.

6 T20internationals, 42 runs, 10.50 avg.