Early retirements May 12, 2017

Pilots, tenors and administrators

ESPNcricinfo staff
Ryan Carters' decision to focus on higher education is another in cricket's list of early retirements. Here's a look back at a few others
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Travis Friend: an international cricketer turned commercial pilot © Getty Images

Barney Gibson, retired aged 19
Played 1 first-class game for Yorkshire, aged 15
Gibson became the youngest English first-class cricketer in history when he kept wicket for Yorkshire in a game against Durham University at just 15 years and 27 days, a game he played after getting special permission from his school. Keeping to a full-strength attack, which included England paceman Ajmal Shahzad, Gibson acquitted himself quite creditably for someone his age, picking up six catches during the course of the game. He went on to play a few games for their second XI, before heading back to age-group cricket. Subsequently, aged just 19, he requested to be released from this county contract to pursue other interests.

Travis Friend, retired aged 24
Played 13 Tests and 51 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 2001 and 2004
While Friend never officially called it a day, he was part of a gang of 15 rebels who had a lengthy stand-off about their contracts with Zimbabwe Cricket in 2005, never to return to the international fold again. A bowler of genuine pace who offered useful contributions with the bat, Friend went on to play for Derbyshire for a while, before training to be a commercial pilot. Since 2008, he has had stints with Flybe and Qatar Airways as a pilot - one of the more interesting post-cricket careers of all time.

Fabian Cowdrey, retired aged 24
Represented Kent across all three formats between 2013 and 2016
Part of cricketing royalty, with a surname as illustrious as that, Cowdrey quit cricket recently to help his brother Julius' career as a singing superstar. During the off season, the Kent allrounder became the songwriter for his brother's debut single, and has now taken it up as his full-time vocation, after having played four seasons at the first-class and List A levels.

Holly Colvin has taken up a position with the ICC, after retiring aged just 26 © Getty Images

Holly Colvin, retired aged 26
Represented England in 5 Tests, 72 ODIs and 50 T20s
Colvin made history as England's youngest Test cricketer aged just 15, before going on to be part of two successful Ashes campaigns, apart from winning a World Cup and a World T20. After taking a sabbatical in 2013, a period in which she worked for the charity Cricket Without Boundaries to spread awareness about AIDS in Africa, Colvin returned to the fold briefly in 2015 before taking up a position with the ICC as their Senior Officer for Women's Cricket.

Alex Loudon, retired aged 27
Played one ODI for England, apart from representing Kent and Warwickshire
Once hailed as England's own "mystery spinner" after bowling Marcus Trescothick with a doosra in the nets during their tour of Pakistan in 2005, Loudon played a solitary ODI before announcing his retirement at the age of 27 to pursue a career in business. Eleven years on, he has gone on to build a career in corporate finance and investment management.

George Thoms, retired aged 27
Played one Test for Australia, apart from representing Victoria
Possibly the only cricketer to have also been a gynaecologist, Thoms ended his career after playing just one Test for Australia, for fear of cricket inflicting a hand injury that could end his career as a surgeon. He went on to become one of his nation's most eminent surgeons, introducing the concept of laser surgery to Australia in the mid-'70s. All this after making three centuries and having a first-class average of 35 in an era dominated by fast bowlers, and making his debut alongside Richie Benaud and Colin McDonald in 1951-52.

Henry Olonga (right) commentator and accomplished singer © Kanishkaa Balachandran

Henry Olonga, retired aged 27
Played 30 Tests and 50 ODIs for Zimbabwe between 1995 and 2003
Part of a generation of Zimbabwean cricketers who quit international cricket after their black armband protest in the 2003 World Cup to protest the "death of democracy" in their homeland, Olonga, along with the likes of Andy Flower, moved out of Zimbabwe to England after the tournament. A knee injury scuppered his return to first-class cricket in England, after which he has gone on to have a career in music - a singer who can whip up a mean rendition of "Nessun Dorma" - apart from occasional stints in the media.

Zafar Ansari, retired aged 25
Played three Tests and one ODI for England between 2015 and 2016
Months after making his Test debut against Bangladesh in Dhaka and playing two matches on the India tour, Surrey allrounder Zafar Ansari chose to announce his retirement from all forms of the game to focus on a career outside of cricket, potentially in law, not as surprising given his credentials. Ansari earned a double-first degree in politics and sociology from Cambridge University, a masters in history after completing a thesis on the American civil rights movement and had learned to play the piano to a high level. His international career spanned a little more than a year. He made his debut in an ODI against Ireland and earned his Test cap on England's tour of Bangladesh. He played two Tests on the India tour, finishing with a career tally of 49 runs and five wickets in three matches.

Ryan Carters, retired aged 26
Played first-class and List A cricket for Victoria (2010-2013) and New South Wales (2013-2016)
A wicketkeeper-batsman, Carters opted to retire in May 2017 to pursue higher studies after earning a university degree in philosophy, politics and economics. Overall he played 43 first-class matches and 22 List A matches apart from stints for Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League. Off the field, Carter founded the Batting for Change charity in association with the LBW Trust, which seeks to improve educational opportunities for females in cricket-playing nations around the world.

This article, originally published on April 26, 2017, was updated on May 12, 2017.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beertjie on May 15, 2017, 12:14 GMT

    Hope Usman Khawaja doesn't chuck it in and follow Travis and Colin!

  • Andre2 on April 30, 2017, 19:54 GMT

    I appreciated the photo of Henry Olonga talking on the mike. The other guy, on the left, is none other than Henri Blofeld from Test Match Special on the BBC !

  • TestCricRox on April 30, 2017, 12:00 GMT

    i remember a NZ bowler - Chris Drum-retired early as well...also that allot guy who was the leading wicket taker in the 1999 WC....all the best to ZAF - from an indian fan....cheers

  •   Gavin Stevenson on April 29, 2017, 21:50 GMT

    Ian Craig debuted for Australia at 17, captained his country by 22 and played his last Test of 11 before he was 23 and retired from all cricket by 26 due to commitments of his vocation as a pharmacist.

  • YorBanra on April 29, 2017, 17:30 GMT

    Two others - Ashwini Minna - One of the most promising legspinners in the 70s. Quit after 25 FC games to take over editorship of a newspaper. Saad Bin Jung - Unfulfilled talent. Quit after five years of FC cricket representing Hyderabad and Haryana to pursue his other passion - wildlife. Now organizes wildlife tours

  • rajivgower on April 29, 2017, 13:24 GMT

    Surely Wilson deserves a mention. Quit cricket, then rugby, then back again..

  • dejfrith on April 29, 2017, 11:12 GMT

    I had the misfortune to be at the SCG in February 1952 when George Thoms was one of three Test debutants. One of them was fellow opening batsman Colin McDonald, and their first-wicket partnerships in both innings against a mediocre West Indies bowling line-up were so turgid that a young chap could easily have been turned off cricket for life. Thoms got that precious baggy green before turning to a truly worthwhile career. McDonald became Australia's sheet-anchor opener for years. The other debutant? An unimpressive youngster named Benaud.

  • MasterSpinner on April 29, 2017, 6:09 GMT

    Anyone remember Robin Boyd-Moss? Another very highly educated man who played for Northants and retired at 27 to pursue business interests in Kenya. Ex Oxbridge graduates have plenty of choices in life and he was one of those.

  • karanSEHWAG on April 29, 2017, 6:09 GMT

    Tatenda Taibu should be number one in the list! He left cricket to become a Pastor! Leaving cricket to do God's work should call for a special mention! Tatenda, Love from India!

  • alfredmynn on April 28, 2017, 23:25 GMT

    @M_Jones, thanks for your comment. I looked up Owen Rock's profile on cricinfo and read the excellent article about him by Gideon Haigh. He seems to have been a gifted player who retired on a high. Coming to this article, George Thoms seems to have been an impressive individual. Not too many could pull off what he did - qualifying as a surgeon (and a great one at that), while also being an excellent first-class player. As always, thanks to Cricinfo for the opportunity to learn something new!

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