Over the next two decades, he gave his all on the field for India, Karnataka and various clubs he turned out for. The result: An India cap in all three formats, seven major domestic titles as captain and 504 first-class wickets from 139 matches at an average of 22.44, of which a record 442 are Ranji Trophy scalps.
On Friday, two weeks after turning 37, the domestic giant decided to hang up his boots. The lion-hearted medium-pacer announced his decision in a two-page statement posted on social media.
“Today ‘Davangere Express’ after running for 25 years and passing so many stations of cricketing life, has finally arrived at a station called “Retirement”. With a lot of mixed emotions, I, Vinay Kumar R, hereby announce my retirement from international and first-class cricket. It is not an easy decision to make, however, there comes a time in every sports person’s life where one has to call it a day,” Vinay said in a statement on Twitter.
Thankyou all for your love and support throughout my career. Today I hang up my boots. 🙏🙏❤️ #ProudIndian https://t.co/ht0THqWTdP
— Vinay Kumar R (@Vinay_Kumar_R) 1614330799000
The announcement brought the curtains down on an illustrious career which began in 2004, when he made his Ranji Trophy debut against Bengal under the captaincy of J Arun Kumar. He launched his career with the wicket of opposition skipper Rohan Gavaskar and the spark which he lit then for Karnataka cricket never dimmed over the next 15 years. He spent a brief while (2019-2020) with Pondicherry, but that was at the fag end of his career. In 2020-21 he went without an IPL contract and domestic team.
Pace wasn’t Vinay’s strength but he compensated for it with unerring line and length and, later, his ability to swing the ball. In the company of Sreenath Arvind and Abhimanyu Mithun, he formed the most potent pace attack for Karnataka (in terms of wickets) and was among the key architects of the state’s golden period between 2013-2015 when the team won two trophies each in the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Trophy.
Vinay told TOI his decision to quit wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment call.
“It wasn’t a sudden decision. I had thought about it for a year. I’ve achieved almost everything I set out to and I enjoyed playing for every team I represented. So, I retire without any regrets,” said the former Karnataka skipper.
Riding on a fiery domestic record, Vinay made his debut for the country at the ICC World T20 against Sri Lanka in the West Indies in 2010. In his three-year stint with the national team, he featured in 31 ODIs, nine T20s and a lone Test match against Australia in Perth. He finished with 49 international wickets across formats. While his India stint was short-lived, he continued to be one of the top performers on the domestic circuit.
Asked about memories of his domestic tenure, Vinay rated Karnataka’s back-to-back treble under his captaincy among the best. “I gave my best every time I stepped out on the field. But a few matches are very special. I’ll always remember the five-wicket haul against Punjab in the 2013-14 semifinals because I bowled with a shoulder injury. The 6/20 against Mumbai in the 2014-15 semifinals at the M Chinnaswamy stadium was special. The five-wicket haul and century (105 n.o) against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy final in the same season is another unforgettable performance.”
Looking ahead, Vinay, who is a known face in television commentary and has recently taken up coaching, said he wished to remain connected with the sport.
“Currently I’m taking it easy and enjoying this phase of my career. Going forward I would like to give back to the sport by being associated with governance or in any other role,” he stated.
Well done Vinay on a fantastic career. Your contribution to Karnataka cricket and India is praiseworthy. Congratulations, you can look back with pride. Best wishes for the future.
@iamyusufpathan @IrfanPathan @sachin_rt @GautamGambhir @ShaneWarne Congratulations @iamyusufpathan on a glorious ca… https://t.co/CyWzA8CffP
— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) 1614341090000
@Vinay_Kumar_R @richavkumar @BCCI @BCCIdomestic @anilkumble1074 @sachin_rt @msdhoni @virendersehwag @GautamGambhir… https://t.co/ejuTroFjIG
— Mayank Agarwal (@mayankcricket) 1614335562000
Congratulations on your fantastic career @Vinay_Kumar_R You’ve been an Inspiration to millions.I’m a huge fan of… https://t.co/ZJRP8GF5xb
— Prasidh Krishna (@prasidh43) 1614341326000
” Vinay Kumar has done yeoman service to Karnataka cricket. His contribution will be etched in the annals of Karnataka cricket history. Knowing him, we are certain he will come back and contribute to Karnataka cricket in the years to come.” – Santosh Menon, secretary KSCA