By Nishad Pai Vaidya
The year 2013 has seen numerous cricketers walk into sunset. In Sachin Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis, you had two greats walking away and the cricket world was left poorer without them. Then, you also had someone like Graeme Swann stunning the world by calling time midway through the Ashes down under. Many would say it was a year of endings as some of these players were symbols and more than figures on the cricket field. When the clock strikes 12 on December 31, even the cricketing world may move into a new era.
Here are some of the men who retired from international cricket this year:
1. Sachin Tendulkar: This was the biggest retirement of them all. On October 10, 2013, the cricket world was jolted by the announcement that Tendulkar won’t play beyond November. When the West Indies arrived for a two-match Test series, the whole hoopla was about Tendulkar with elaborate arrangements being made at Kolkata and Mumbai to celebrate the great career. At Kolkata, he was dismissed for 10 in India’s only innings. But, in Mumbai, his crowd welcomed him as he strode out for the last time. West Indies formed a guard of honour and the legend then went on to script 74 memorable runs. His dismissal silenced the crowd, but his speech at the end of the game brought tears even to the most stone-hearted. In the end, the picture of him walking to the wicket to bow to it would be etched in memory forever.
2. Jacques Kallis: If one colossus had any chance of coming close to Tendulkar’s remarkable feats, it was Jacques Kallis. While he did witness a slump in form, many thought he could bounce back and overhaul Tendulkar’s tally of 51 Test tons. However, in 2013, he averaged under 20 in seven Tests and announced that the ongoing Durban Test against India would be his last. Kallis was one of the greatest cricketers of this generation for his all-round ability and he walks away from the game a legend and a rare breed in modern times. He will, however, continue to grace the field in limited overs cricket and is eyeing the 2015 World Cup.
3. Michael Hussey: Australia stepped into 2013 having lost Ricky Ponting, but looked at Michael Hussey for stability. However, ‘Mr. Cricket’ announced that the New Year’s Test against Sri lanka would be his last and it was quite a surprising decision as he was in good form. Playing his final Test, he scored 25 in the first innings and came out to bat with a few runs needed to win during the second essay. He stayed right through and remained unbeaten — the perfect way to end his career. Hussey did continue to play for Chennai Super Kings and is currently featuring in the Big Bash League (BBL).
4. Ricky Ponting: The former Australian captain announced his retirement from Test cricket in December last year. However, he continued to play T20 cricket. A good season in the BBL won him a contract with the Mumbai Indians at the Indian Premier League (IPL) and was duly named the captain. All the excitement was about him batting with Tendulkar, but it fizzled out as both struggled to find consistency. Ponting captained them during their initial games and then handed the reins to Rohit Sharma, who led them to triumph. Ponting then played county cricket with Surrey and finished his First-Class career with an innings of 169 not out. However, he only bowed out after playing for Antigua Hawksbills in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
5. Rahul Dravid: The famed technician entered the young man’s game to enjoy and express himself. During the IPL 2013, he captained a spirited Rajasthan Royals as they made their way to the play-offs. There was a major hiccup as some of his players were arrested in connection to allegations of spot-fixing. But, the gentlemanly Dravid remained the ray of hope and led them through to the end. Under his captaincy, Rajasthan also qualified for the final of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013, but were overpowered by Mumbai. His career came to a close when he was castled while playing an uncharacteristic slog.
6. Graeme Swann: Perhaps the most shocking retirement of the year! Things looked good when England won the Ashes at home, but when they travelled to Australia, they were stunned by the resurgent home team. England were mauled in the first three Tests as Australia sealed the urn. Swann was already under pressure as he wasn’t getting wickets and he announced his retirement from cricket with immediate effect. His retirement has been a bit controversial due to some of his reported comments in the press supposedly aimed at a few players. Is there more to it than meets the eye?
7. Tillakaratne Dilshan: The Sri Lankan dasher announced his retirement from Test cricket on October 10, 2013 — the same day Tendulkar also made his call. Tillakaratne Dilshan decided to make way for a new generation, although he would continue to play limited overs internationals. Along with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan forms the backbone of the Lankan side and their next target would be the 2015 World Cup.
8. Ajit Agarkar: The Mumbai and India all-rounder surprised many when he called it a day just before the domestic season kicked off in the country. Having led Mumbai to the Ranji Trophy triumph last season, Agarkar felt it was time and at 36, he decided to move to other pastures. He hadn’t played for India since 2007, but continued to be one of the main members of the Mumbai side. After his international days, he was a part of three Ranji Trophy winning sides.
9. Chris Martin: The New Zealand seamer called it a day in July this year as a young crop of seamers took over the reins. Martin was a dependable bowler, who hit the right channels and was an asset in Test cricket. Although he has 233 wickets from 71 Tests, he would best be remembered for his ‘exploits’ with the bat. A genuine No 11 in his day, he recorded 36 ducks in Test cricket.
10. Trent Johnston: A remarkable cricketer for Ireland, Trent Johnston has been their unshakable warhorse for ten years. During the last few years, he has been a part of some of Ireland’s most memorable moments such as the World Cup 2007 and the win over England in 2011. He retired from the game after Ireland won the ICC Intercontinental Cup in December. Post retirement, he has taken up the task of coaching the Ireland women’s team and would be seen at the helm at the ICC World T20 2014.
11. Matthew Hoggard: The wily swing bowler announced his retirement in September this year and bowed out after Leicestershire’s last championship game against Hampshire. Matthew Hoggard hadn’t played for England since 2008, but became a crucial figure at Leicester. He played a pivotal role in England’s Ashes 2005 victory and would be remembered for leading the pace attack during the 2000s.
12. Steve Harmison: Another Ashes 2005 hero, Steve Harmison continued to serve Durham and Yorkshire after his international days. However, he missed the whole 2013 season due to injury and could only play a few second XI games. As a result, he announced his retirement from cricket. It brought to an end a career of highs and lows. There are two moments that would symbolize his career. One would be the way he terrorized the Australians in 2005 and the other would be that infamous wide to begin the Ashes 2006-07 Down Under.
13. Simon Jones: England fans would always wonder what might have been had Simon Jones stayed fit. While, his performances during the Ashes 2005 made him a hero, his career was left unfulfilled as he injured himself too many times; the most horrific one being at Brisbane in 2002 when he hurt his leg in the outfield. Jones finished his career after Glamorgan’s last county game of the 2013 season, but expressed his wish to continue in T20 cricket. However, nothing came of that.
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