Indian superstar Rahul Dravid announced his retirement from international cricket on Friday at the age of 39, ending a 16-year career that made him an idol at home and abroad.
"It is time to move on and let a new generation of players make their own history," Dravid told reporters at a crowded news conference in Bangalore alongside Indian cricket board president Narayanaswamy Srinivasan.
The stylish batsman is the second-highest scorer in Test cricket history behind compatriot Sachin Tendulkar, with 13,288 runs from 164 matches at an average of 52.31.
"When I started, I could never imagine that this long journey will take me so far," said Dravid, who scored 36 Test centuries. "In the Indian team I was fortunate to be part of a wonderful era.
"I leave the game with wonderful memories and great friendships," the once-time national skipper added, saying he looked forward to spending more time with his wife and children after years on the road.
The man known as "the Wall" for his immaculate technique, was also one of only 10 batsmen to score more than 10,000 runs in one-day cricket, which he quit last year to prolong his Test career.
Dravid's one-day tally stood at 10,889 runs from 344 matches at an average of 39.16, including 12 centuries.
Indian cricket boss Srinivasan called Dravid "one of the finest cricketers India has ever produced" and a "great role model".
"I would echo everyone's praise when we say 'Thank you Rahul.' Thank you for what you have given to Indian cricket and we wish you very, very well," he told reporters.
Dravid's retirement puts the focus on India's other ageing stars, Sachin Tendulkar, 39 next month, and Venkatsai Laxman, 37, who are under pressure to consider their future after the team's just-concluded disastrous tour of Australia.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men, who won the limited-overs World Cup in April last year, crashed to a 4-0 Test defeat against Australia after an identical whitewash in England last year where they also failed to win the one-day series.
Dravid was one of the few players to emerge with any credit after the tour of England where he defied the years to crack three centuries in four Tests.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan joined the chorus of tributes worldwide from players past and present who said goodbye to one of the game's leading ambassadors.
"The world's most respected cricketer over the last 20 yrs," Vaughan wrote on Twitter.
Dravid's unhappy Australia tour will mark his last appearances in an Indian shirt where he managed just 194 runs in eight innings. He was bowled six times, indicating perhaps that his reflexes were slowing down.
"I had thought about it (retiring) even before the tour of Australia," he said. "I knew in my heart... I knew deep down that the time was right. For the past year, I had assessed my future after every series.
"My approach to cricket has been reasonably simple -- it was about giving everything to the team, it was about playing with dignity and it was about upholding the spirit of the game.
"I hope I have done some of that. I have failed at times, but I have never stopped trying. It's why I leave with sadness, but also with pride."
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, a fellow debutant with Dravid in the 1996 Lord's Test, said it will not be easy to replace him.
"He was a perfectionist. His determination, technique and commitment towards the game was something special," said Ganguly. "It's really tough to become another Rahul Dravid. It will not happen overnight."
Dravid will continue playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 event where he will lead Rajasthan Royals this year after the retirement of Australian spin legend Shane Warne.
Source: AFP Global Edition