Former Karnataka captain finished with 504 first-class wickets, including a record 442 in the Ranji Trophy
R Vinay Kumar, the former India seamer, has announced his retirement from first-class and international cricket, bringing the curtain down on a first-class career that spanned 16 years and made him a domestic giant. He played most of those years for Karnataka, before retiring after a season with new entrants Puducherry.
Vinay finished with 504 first-class wickets in 139 matches, 442 of them in the Ranji Trophy – the most among fast bowlers and fourth-highest overall, after Rajinder Goel (637), S Venkataraghavan (530) and his former Karnataka captain Sunil Joshi (479).
Known for hitting the seam and getting useful movement even on docile surfaces, Vinay earned a Test cap on the tour of Australia in 2011-12 when he was handed a debut in Perth. That, however, remained his only Test appearance. He also featured in 31 ODIs and nine T20Is, picking up 38 and ten wickets respectively.
Vinay’s best years came after his brief India career came to a halt, when he captained Karnataka to an unprecedented double-treble – of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup – from 2013 to 2015. He combined with Abhimanyu Mithun, S Aravind, HS Sharath and Ronit More to form a potent bowling combination.
— Vinay Kumar R (@Vinay_Kumar_R) February 26, 2021
“Winning Ranji Trophy back-to-back was the proudest moment in my career,” Vinay had told ESPNcricinfo ahead of his 100th Ranji appearance. He finished with 115 Ranji matches in all. “When we won Ranji Trophy in 2013-14, it was after 14 years the state won. We reached the final in 2009-10 but narrowly lost, and Mumbai won by just six runs.
“After that we kept coming to the quarter-finals and semis, but unfortunately we could not win until 2013-14. So winning the trophy was the most memorable moment for me. We also won the Irani Trophy and the Vijay Hazare and repeating it next year was the icing on the cake.”
In the IPL, Vinay was picked in 2008 by the Royal Challengers Bangalore and made a mark the following season when he picked up 16 wickets during the team’s runners-up finish. Later, he was part of title-winning teams at the Kolkata Knight Riders (2014) and the Mumbai Indians (2015 and 2017). He also represented a fourth side – Kochi Tuskers – in 2011.
Over the last two years, Vinay has made a mark in regional cricket commentary, having been part of panels in Kannada for the 2019 World Cup and IPL 2020. He hoped to remain in touch and “give back to the game”, something he signed off with in a press statement that he tweeted out.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo