Azhar Ali Announces Retirement from International Cricket
Pakistani Veteran batsman Azhar Ali just announced his retirement from Test Cricket after the third & last Test match of the England series, which is all set to take place Tomorrow at Karachi International Stadium, Karachi.
He revealed the heart-breaking decision on the eve of the Karachi Test :
“It has been a great honour and privilege to represent my country at the highest level. Deciding when to call it a day is always tough, but after contemplating deeply, I realised that this is the right time for me to retire from Test cricket.”
“There are many people I am grateful to in this strenuous yet beautiful journey. I want to make a special mention of my family, without whose sacrifices; I would not have been where I am today. My parents, wife, siblings, and children have been my strength.
“I have been blessed to share the dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom I share a strong bond. I feel much richer by calling these people my friends. I am also blessed to have played under some excellent coaches to whom I will always remain grateful.
“I retire from international cricket as a fulfilled cricketer who ticked most of the goals he had set for himself. Not many cricketers go on to lead their countries, and I was able to captain Pakistan is a matter of great pride for me. From being a kid who started as a legspinner to becoming a mainstay in the Test batting line-up, I had the loveliest moments I will cherish forever.”
“Everything has an end just like it has a beginning. My heart and head told me this was the right time. It’s been an honour for me to represent Pakistan. Great memories. I want to thank all my coaches and colleagues. I haven’t seen a better bunch of players.”
“It’s my own decision. Nobody coerced me into it. I’m delighted with the way youngsters are coming through. This was going to be my last season anyway. I wanted to play 100 Tests, and if I’d played every Test this season, that would have happened. That won’t happen, so it’s better to make way for youngsters. I’d also like to consider my well-being and the life ahead. It was my own decision, not someone else’s.
“I’d like to thank my parents. My dad believed in me more than I did. And my mother, who’s no longer around. Her sacrifices meant the world to me. I miss her.”
It’s worth mentioning that he hurt his thumb in the first Test match at Rawalpindi. He retired hurt and then came later and played a hard-fought 40-run inning. He missed the second Test match, and his participation in this final Test isn’t confirmed as of now, as skipper Babar Azam also said that the decision hadn’t been made yet.
“We’ll decide tonight, so let’s see.”
“But I’d like to congratulate him on his career and how much he inspired us. He gave Pakistan some great performances. When I came in, he was a senior player and gave us a lot of confidence. He backed the players and brought positive vibes to the dressing room.” He further said.
Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ramiz Raja reacted by labelling Azhar as “one of the most committed and loyal servants of Pakistan cricket.”
“His grit and determination have inspired many young cricketers, and he is a role model for up-and-coming cricketers.”
“While it is sad that Pakistan will not have a player of his experience in the dressing room to draw upon, it only reflects the circle of life. I hope to see Azhar continuing to play a role in the development of Pakistan cricket and sharing his vast knowledge and experience with budding cricketers.”
Lahore-based Veteran batsman Azhar Ali finishes his career as one of Pakistan’s most decorated Test players. He played 97 Test Cricket matches in his career, sixth-most for Pakistan, with Javed Miandad 124), Inzamam-ul-Haq (119), Younis Khan (118), Wasim Akram (104), and Saleem Malik (103) above him.
He scored 7,097 runs (fifth-most for Pakistan), with only Younis Khan (10099), Javed Miandad (8832), Inzamam-ul-Haq (8829), and Muhammad Yousaf (7530) scoring more.
In his Test career, he scored 35 fifties and 19 hundred, which includes two double centuries, in 2015 against Bangladesh at Dhaka and 2016 against Australia at Adelaide In 2014. He scored a triple century as well (302 vs West Indies) and was the only player to score in day-night cricket. Moreover, he has eight wickets as well under his name.
If we look back at his career, he scored many memorable innings and took his team out of trouble. Unbeaten 141 in Southampton, 93 in Christchurch, and 185 at home against Australia in Rawalpindi are just a few of the many great Innings he played in his 12-year career.
However, he didn’t play much of the 50-over format and took retirement from this format in 2018, scoring 1845 runs in 53 ODI matches at an average of 36.90, including 12 fifties and three hundred.
Pakistan won two series under him (against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) as he captained the Pakistan cricket team in nine Test matches in two separate tenures from 2016 to 2020.
Azhar Ali made his debut 12 years ago in 2010 against Australia at Lord’s. He soon established himself as a reliable batsman in the team and owned the vital number 3 position for several years. But after a few years, due to Pakistan’s opening struggles, he played the opening role, where he played 37 innings and 1556 runs at an average of 45.76.
A decade after his debut, he finally got to play on his home soil (in 2019 against Sri Lanka) and scored a century (118) in his second Test at home. And in his press talk, he shared his thought about playing at home :
“It was massive to play at home. I genuinely thought a few years back that I would not be able to play a Test at home because of the game’s duration. No one would come to play just one Test to give us a home Test, but credit to Pakistan Cricket Board and government for making that happen and making other teams believe it was safe to play in Pakistan. To score a hundred on home ground was massive.”