Laxman, 37, had been included in India’s squad for the home series against New Zealand starting next week but said he took the decision over the past few days.
He announced his decision at an emotional press conference in his hometown Hyderabad, which he will represent in the Ranji Trophy this coming season.
“I would like to announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect,” Laxman said. “I have always kept my country’s success and need ahead of my personal aspirations. And while I would love contributing to the team’s success, especially against England and Australia, I think this is the right time to give the youngsters a chanc in home conditions ahead of international assignments.
“It was a tough decision to take, I have always listened to my inner conscience. I have always done that right through my career. There was a lot of debate in the last four days. I felt this is the right time to move on.”
“Till last night I was unable to make up my mind, but in the end I listened to my inner voice and arrived at my decision to retire. I informed the chairman of selectors (Krishnamachari Srikkanth) this morning that I would not continue playing for India. I also spoke to many of my team-mates, they were surprised that I was retiring before the series. It was all very emotional.”
Laxman represented India in 134 Tests, scoring 8781 runs at 45.97. He made his debut against South Africa in the home series in 1996 but shot to the limelight with a knock of 167 against Australia in Sydney in 2000. Perhaps his greatest achievement was his 281 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001, against Australia, then the highest score by an Indian batsman in Tests. Part of a record stand with Rahul Dravid, it set up a stunning victory for the home team after following on and ended Australia’s consecutive 16-match winning streak.
Laxman last played an ODI in 2006 but had, by then, become a regular in the Test side and played his 100th Test in 2008, against Australia in Nagpur. Laxman made six of his 17 Test centuries against Australia, with an average of 49.67 in 29 Tests and success both home and away.
His performances in the eight Tests during India’s disastrous tours of England and Australia in 2011 were disappointing. He averaged 22.75 in England and 19.38 in Australia, prompting some to call for him being dropped from the side with a long-term view of grooming a youngster to take his place.