Recently, England all-rounder Ben Stokes shocked the cricketing fraternity by announcing his retirement from ODI cricket stating that “three formats are just unsustainable” for him now. The swashbuckling cricketer was instrumental in England winning their maiden 50-over World Cup in 2019 as he belted an unbeaten 84 in the final against New Zealand.
The New Indian looks at five cricketers whose retirement created waves and stunned the world.
1) Shahid Afridi: The erratic Pakistani all-rounder played international cricket till 2018 but announced retirement from Test cricket in 2006 after his team fell to an ignominious defeat at Manchester. At that time, the controversial sportsman was just 26 and his retirement had caused a flutter. As is his wont, he came back from retirement after the fervent imploration of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and captained his team in the Test against Australia at Lord’s in 2010.
But Pakistan was ruthlessly routed by Australia by 150 runs following which he once again backed away from the longest format. The entire process of retiring in 2006, coming back to lead the side for one Test in 2010, and once again stepping away triggered hilariously sardonic reactions from the cricketing fraternity. Afridi proclaimed that he was temperamentally unfit to play Test cricket and wanted to focus only on the ODIs and the T20Is.
2) Quinton de Kock: South Africa’s flashy wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock called curtains on his Test career after his team slumped to a 113-run defeat against India at Centurion in 2021 at the age of 29.
The left-hander made his Test debut against Australia in Port Elizabeth in 2014. In 54 matches, he scored 3300 at an average of 38.82 and a strike rate of 70.93. He cracked six centuries and 22 half-centuries in his Test career.
“I have taken a lot of time to think about what my future looks like and what needs to take priority in my life now that Sasha and I are about to welcome our first child into this world and look to grow our family beyond that. My family is everything to me and I want to have the time and space to be able to be with them during this new and exciting chapter of our lives,” he said in a statement.
3) Ab de Villiers: Arguably the most fearsome and exhilarating batsman of his generation, de Villiers called it quits from all formats of international cricket in 2018 when he was just 34.
“I have had my turn and, to be honest, I am tired. It would not be right for me to pick and choose where, when and in what format I play for the Proteas. For me, in the green and gold, it must be everything or nothing. I will always be grateful to the coaches and staff of Cricket South Africa for their support through all these years,” the audacious batter said in a statement.
What stunned cricketing experts was the fact that his announcement came just a year before the 50-over World Cup. Though he has been a highly successful career, de Villiers has never been a part of a team that won a major ICC tournament. The fans were expecting him to play in the 2019 World Cup and give his best to win the championship for South Africa. Alas, he had different thoughts. Though he continued to feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL) till 2021.
4) Andrew Flintoff: Few cricketers time their retirement better than Andrew Flintoff. By the time he was 32, the charismatic all-rounder had had a string of injuries that started to affect his on-field performances.
The hero of the Ashes 2005 stepped away from international cricket after leading his team to another Ashes win at home in 2009. At Lord’s, he was adjudged Man of the Match after he snapped up a five-wicket haul in Australia’s second innings and consigned them to a 115-run defeat.
In his last international match at The Oval, he ran out the Aussie captain Ricky Ponting – which was a crucial moment in the match – as England cruised to a 2-1 series victory. After he retired from cricket, the flamboyant cricketer became a professional boxer.
5) Mohammad Amir: The left-arm seamer burst onto the cricketing firmament as a 17-year-old prodigy and was instantly hailed as the successor of the great Wasim Akram. But destiny had other plans. In 2010, he was banned for five years by the ICC for indulging in spot-fixing during the Test series in England.
The talented seamer made a fine comeback in 2015 and everyone expected him to fulfill his potential after he was given a second chance. But Amir quit Test cricket in 2019 after the Test series in South Africa and made himself unavailable for other formats as well in 2020 after a serious tiff with the PCB. No one had expected that someone of his caliber, who was tipped to scale exalted heights, would be summarily cast in the outer darkness so soon.