Domestic stalwart Devendra Bundela calls it a day

The Madhya Pradesh batsman decides to end his career after a phenomenal 23 years in first-class cricket; he is the most capped cricketer in the history of Ranji Trophy.

Devendra Bundela is the most capped player in the Ranji Trophy.   -  V. Raju

Devendra Bundela, the most capped cricketer in the history of the Ranji Trophy, has hung up his boots after a phenomenal 23-season career in first-class cricket. The 41-year-old Madhya Pradesh stalwart conveyed his decision to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday before addressing a press conference in Indore on Saturday.

“Mixed emotions. A sense of relief and achievement to have lasted at this level for so long,” Bundela, 41, told Sportstar over phone. “For the last few seasons, it was always going to be a matter of when than if when it came to retirement. I think it’s the best time for me to let younger generation of Madhya Pradesh cricketers take over and also focus on coaching promising cricketers.”

Since making his first-class debut in 1995-96, Bundela has emerged as the backbone of Madhya Pradesh’s batting. Though he couldn’t make it to India’s squad, the closest he came to earning an India call-up was when he toured the West Indies with the India A squad and was selected for the Board President’s XI against the touring New Zealanders in 1999.

‘Great sense of satisfaction’

However, Bundela, who crossed the 10,000-run mark in first-class cricket in his last season, has no hard feelings for not having represented India. “Playing for India is always the aspiration for every youngster but that shouldn't be the be all and end all. Had I performed better, maybe the call-up would have come but it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to have lasted for more than two decades. Domestic cricket has got tougher and tougher during my stint and it’s difficult to sustain year after year,” he said.

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Bundela’s “lone regret” of his career is that he couldn’t clinch the coveted Ranji Trophy title.

Over his prolonged career, Bundela created a plethora of records in domestic cricket. In fact, he ended the season just two runs short of overtaking Amol Muzumdar and becoming the second-highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy. But the team man that he is, he refrained from playing a farewell game at the start of the next season just to get the record.

“Cricket is a team sport and I have always put the team ahead of personal milestones. Those two runs are not going to matter much when it would be at the cost of blocking a youngster's place in the squad,” he said.

Devendra Bundela in numbers
  • Bundela scored 10,004 runs in 164 first-class matches, at an average of 43.68 with 26 hundreds and 54 fifties.
  • Bundela’s 145 Ranji Trophy caps are the most for a cricketer in the tournament's history. Wasim Jaffer is second in the list with 138 Ranji caps.
  • Bundela's tally of 9,101 runs in Ranji Trophy is the third-highest in the tournament, behind Jaffer (10,738) and Amol Muzumdar (9,202).
  • Bundela recorded 74 fifty-plus scores in Ranji Trophy, trailing Jaffer who has 80.
  • Bundela is only the second Indian cricketer to have notched up 10,000 runs in first-class cricket without playing for India.