January 23, 2012

Playing, playing, gone

Cricketers who announced their retirements during series
27

Stuart MacGill
The mercurial Australia legspinner MacGill actually announced his retirement mid-Test - during the second one against West Indies in Antigua in June 2008. MacGill had overslept and missed the team bus on the second day, for which he was fined by his team-mates, but that wasn't why he retired - he had realised that a succession of injuries had reduced his effectiveness. It was a disappointing end for MacGill, who had only just rid himself of the giant shadow of the retired Shane Warne, with whom he had competed for a place almost throughout his career. MacGill still took 208 Test wickets at 29.02, and recently - like Warne - made a good start to a playing comeback in Australia's 20-over Big Bash.

Nasser Hussain
Hussain called it a day after hitting the winning runs for England in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's in 2004, a match in which Andrew Strauss announced his arrival with 112 in the first innings of his Test debut (and 83 in the second before Hussain ran him out). Strauss had played only because the regular captain, Michael Vaughan, had injured his knee, and Hussain knew someone would have to go when Vaughan was fit again: he decided it would be him, even though he was in sight of a century of Test caps (he finished with 96). Hussain said: "Age was catching up with me in my body and my mind, and the fire in my stomach was deteriorating. I was willing to fight that and the opposition, but not to fight against youth, in the form of Andrew Strauss and others."

Nathan Astle
Arguably New Zealand's best one-day batsman, Astle looked set for another tilt at the World Cup when he suddenly retired in the middle of the Australian one-day tri-series in January 2007. Astle, who also played 81 Tests, said: "I have been fighting this day for about eight months. I so desperately wanted to go to my fourth World Cup, but deep down inside I knew that I was lacking motivation and the enjoyment levels were just not there."

Muttiah Muralitharan
The great Sri Lanka offspinner set himself a stiff target by announcing, before the first Test against India in Galle in July 2010, that it would be his last one - this despite starting it with 792 wickets. That meant he needed eight to finish with 800, and everything looked on course when he took five in the first innings. But things proved harder when India batted again, and when the last pair came together, Murali was stuck on 799. Several agonising overs followed - during which the man himself narrowly missed a run-out that would have left him stranded forever, barring a change of heart - but finally Murali had Pragyan Ojha caught at slip. So he finished with a round 800 - and Sri Lanka went on to win the match. However, they have not won many since!

WG Grace
A 19th-century Ashes Test without Grace was almost unthinkable, and he played on until he was past 50. During the first Test against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1899, though, the great man's lack of mobility in the field was obvious: after some catcalls from the crowd, he was forced to admit that "the ground was getting too far away". After the match, he told his team-mate, the Hon FS Jackson, "It's all over Jacker, I shan't play again." And WG never did play another Test, although he continued in first-class cricket for several more years.

Tom Graveney
An unusual one this, in that Graveney's 79-Test career ended when he played in his own benefit match, on the rest day of the first Test against West Indies at Old Trafford in 1969. Graveney had been warned not to risk injury by taking part, but felt he had to show up and play, to reward those supporting him. Officially he only received a three-match ban - but Graveney, who turned 42 during the Test in question, knew he was effectively retiring, as he was unlikely to be asked to play for England again. And he wasn't.

Jack Gregory
Gregory was one of cricket's greatest stars immediately after the First World War - a high-stepping, ferociously fast bowler, and a big hitter, whose 70-minute century against South Africa in Johannesburg in November 1921 remains the fastest in Tests when assessed by time. "His skill and his power were as unpredictable as a thunderstorm or a nuclear explosion," enthused Neville Cardus in Wisden. By 1928-29, though, the power was waning a little, and it fizzled out entirely when Gregory badly injured his knee while bowling in the first Test against England, in Brisbane, which the tourists went on to win by the little matter of 675 runs. Knowing he could no longer bowl fast, Gregory retired.

Michael Vaughan
A sublime batsman to watch at his best, Vaughan captained England in 51 of his 82 Tests, including the unforgettable Ashes series of 2005. Despite a succession of chronic knee injuries, he was desperate for another crack at the Aussies in 2009, but gradually it became obvious that the joint was not up to the task. Vaughan admitted defeat in the middle of the 2008 season: "I wanted to give it one last hard effort to get into the Ashes squad," he lamented, "but I haven't been playing well enough and my body hasn't been holding up."

Anil Kumble
After 132 Tests for India, Kumble called it a day after the third of four Tests against Australia late in 2008. He'd already missed the second Test with a finger injury, and he picked up another one in his final match in Delhi, the venue of his ten-for in 1999. "The body was asking questions every day," said Kumble, who had just turned 38. "It was not easy to keep bowling the way I have been bowling the last 18 years, to keep going."

Damien Martyn
It took the stylish Western Australia batsman Martyn a long time to be forgiven for supposedly causing Australia's shock defeat against South Africa in Sydney in January 1994 with an irresponsible shot - it was only his seventh Test, and he didn't play another one for six years. His end was even more sudden: he disappeared from public view after the second Test of the 2006-07 Ashes tour - Australia's remarkable comeback win in Adelaide, which gave them a 2-0 series lead on the way to a stunning 5-0 whitewash - and shortly afterwards announced his retirement. "It's time for me to move aside," said Martyn, who had been in indifferent form. "I have enjoyed everything the game has given me. I have gained from it more than I could have ever imagined."

Shahid Afridi
It's rather difficult to keep track of all of Afridi's retirements, but he does seem to be firmly retired from Test cricket now. He actually called a halt in 2006, before being tempted back by the captaincy in England in 2010 - but that lasted only one match, a big defeat against Australia at Lord's, before Afridi retired again after a couple of irresponsible shots. "With my temperament I can't play Test cricket," he admitted. "A captain should lead by example, which I did not. And if I played the way I played in this match it is better to leave."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 4test90 on January 24, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Nutcutlet - Ponsford and Gillespie really went out at the top - double centuries in their last Tests, and an honourable mention (182) to Greg Chappell !!

  • Romanticstud on January 24, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    @highveldhillbilly Shaun Pollock did announce his retirement mid-series.

  • brittop on January 23, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Thanks to some joyless soul who made the rule that if a single is completed before the ball crosses the boundary, and that single wins the match, then the boundary doesn't count, Nasser Hussain did not hit his last ball in test cricket for 4 to win the match.

  • brittop on January 23, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    An unfortunate consequence of Murali's decision to retire after one test in that series is that his tally of 800 wickets includes 5 for the ICC World XI. This gives the ICC the perfect excuse never to take test status away from that game.

  • Aubm on January 23, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Why do people keep mentioning Ganguly? His last thest was the "Krezja" test match, which was also the last match of the series, making him inelligible for this list (which despite the subheading is about announcing AND quitting mid series).

  • sjissac on January 23, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    I think Brian Lara should also be included.

  • on January 23, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Ganguly. most significant in-series retirement. changed the face of Indian cricket. for the worse, as seen this summer onwards.

  • LordOfCric on January 23, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    The best was Muttiah, he has lot of gutts to announced that before the match even though he need only 8 wickets to complete another milestone. He never care if he be able to get 8 wickets this is what you called a "Legend". Unlike others who still waiting for milestone and knowing the results of the series is going to be 4-0 pretty soon................

  • Advanced_Donkeys on January 23, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    what about Marvan Atapattu? The creator of puppets and jokers story.

  • on January 23, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    I think Sanath Jayasuriya also retired from test cricket during the England tour of Sri Lanka after the first match of 3.can't you remember that...??

  • 4test90 on January 24, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Nutcutlet - Ponsford and Gillespie really went out at the top - double centuries in their last Tests, and an honourable mention (182) to Greg Chappell !!

  • Romanticstud on January 24, 2012, 8:06 GMT

    @highveldhillbilly Shaun Pollock did announce his retirement mid-series.

  • brittop on January 23, 2012, 21:01 GMT

    Thanks to some joyless soul who made the rule that if a single is completed before the ball crosses the boundary, and that single wins the match, then the boundary doesn't count, Nasser Hussain did not hit his last ball in test cricket for 4 to win the match.

  • brittop on January 23, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    An unfortunate consequence of Murali's decision to retire after one test in that series is that his tally of 800 wickets includes 5 for the ICC World XI. This gives the ICC the perfect excuse never to take test status away from that game.

  • Aubm on January 23, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    Why do people keep mentioning Ganguly? His last thest was the "Krezja" test match, which was also the last match of the series, making him inelligible for this list (which despite the subheading is about announcing AND quitting mid series).

  • sjissac on January 23, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    I think Brian Lara should also be included.

  • on January 23, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    Ganguly. most significant in-series retirement. changed the face of Indian cricket. for the worse, as seen this summer onwards.

  • LordOfCric on January 23, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    The best was Muttiah, he has lot of gutts to announced that before the match even though he need only 8 wickets to complete another milestone. He never care if he be able to get 8 wickets this is what you called a "Legend". Unlike others who still waiting for milestone and knowing the results of the series is going to be 4-0 pretty soon................

  • Advanced_Donkeys on January 23, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    what about Marvan Atapattu? The creator of puppets and jokers story.

  • on January 23, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    I think Sanath Jayasuriya also retired from test cricket during the England tour of Sri Lanka after the first match of 3.can't you remember that...??

  • Prabhas on January 23, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    What about Ganguly? He also announced his retirement during the series??

  • khurrambhai on January 23, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Damien Martyn was a great player. I couldn't see Shoaib Akhter in this list, his retirement was shocking too ..

  • Romanticstud on January 23, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    What about the great Alan Donald ... he was playing at the Wanderers and suddenly had to limp off the field because of a recurring injury ...

  • jonesy2 on January 23, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    macgill, martyn, murali, kumble, astle. legends

  • on January 23, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    You missed the most nonchalant one. That of Saurav Ganguly. After finishing interview he just say by the way this is my last test

  • highveldhillbilly on January 23, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    Surely Pollock makes this list. I man compared to someone like Astle...come on now.

  • Nutcutlet on January 23, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    I think I'm right in saying that Raman Subba-Row also announced his forthcoming retirement during the '61 Ashes' series. This was the only series in which he was an ever-present - and, uniquely as far as I am aware, he scored a century in both his first Ashes test - 112 at Edgbaston - and his last, 137 at the Oval. Then he retired from playing fc cricket altogether, aged 29! Talk about going out at the top!

  • BrianCharlesVivek on January 23, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Is this only during test matches?? IF for ODI's Brian Lara famously announced during 2007 WC before the final league match against ENgland.

  • 9ST9 on January 23, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    one big ommission is Sanath Jayasuriya - the man retired in the first test against England in 2007, scoring 73 and 4 years later retired from ODI's again mid series (1st Odi vs eng in 2011, here he made only 1).

  • on January 23, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    where is Saurav Ganguly ???

  • on January 23, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Kumble did not call it a day after the third test. He announced his retirement on the last day of the test just before Aus came out to bat.

  • jmcilhinney on January 23, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    "With my temperament I can't play Test cricket," he admitted. "A captain should lead by example, which I did not. And if I played the way I played in this match it is better to leave." You've got to respect a guy who is responsible enough to know that he's irresponsible.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    With my temperament I can't play Test cricket," he admitted. "A captain should lead by example, which I did not. And if I played the way I played in this match it is better to leave." I THINK DHONI SHOULD ALSO LEARN FROM AFRIDI & ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM TEST CRICKET .

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    THE INCLUSION OF SHAHID AFRIDI IN THIS LIST IN FUNNY ONE .

  • Emancipator007 on January 23, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Hussain can be prickly and hoity-toity but his has been the biggest sacrifice being so close to 100 Tests (would have been too tempting for many Asian players). But ones who had been in form while they retired were Ganguly (forced to announce retirement before OZ 2010 series began) Muralitharan,Lara and McGrath. In a previous era, it was Gavaskar in 1987, though he did go onto play the World Cup in 1987 after retiring from Tests and Hadlee. High time for a 39 year Dravid to step aside (struggling with express pace of Pattinson and Harris cos of age). 37 year-old Laxman's game has clearly deteriorated and should go too. The Test cricket world is missing seeing the incandescent, classy talent of Rohit Sharma (temperament and steel will come with time) who will sadly never play a Test in OZ till he is 27 in 2014. What a waste!

  • johnathonjosephs on January 23, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    Most epic retirements were Murali and Nassir Hussain. The Big 3 of India need a lot to learn from Hussain

  • Paki.Fan. on January 23, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Hats off to Nasser Hussain, Very few players think about the bigger cause. and Nasser's story must be told more often to appreciate what he is done

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  • Paki.Fan. on January 23, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Hats off to Nasser Hussain, Very few players think about the bigger cause. and Nasser's story must be told more often to appreciate what he is done

  • johnathonjosephs on January 23, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    Most epic retirements were Murali and Nassir Hussain. The Big 3 of India need a lot to learn from Hussain

  • Emancipator007 on January 23, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Hussain can be prickly and hoity-toity but his has been the biggest sacrifice being so close to 100 Tests (would have been too tempting for many Asian players). But ones who had been in form while they retired were Ganguly (forced to announce retirement before OZ 2010 series began) Muralitharan,Lara and McGrath. In a previous era, it was Gavaskar in 1987, though he did go onto play the World Cup in 1987 after retiring from Tests and Hadlee. High time for a 39 year Dravid to step aside (struggling with express pace of Pattinson and Harris cos of age). 37 year-old Laxman's game has clearly deteriorated and should go too. The Test cricket world is missing seeing the incandescent, classy talent of Rohit Sharma (temperament and steel will come with time) who will sadly never play a Test in OZ till he is 27 in 2014. What a waste!

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    THE INCLUSION OF SHAHID AFRIDI IN THIS LIST IN FUNNY ONE .

  • rahulcricket007 on January 23, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    With my temperament I can't play Test cricket," he admitted. "A captain should lead by example, which I did not. And if I played the way I played in this match it is better to leave." I THINK DHONI SHOULD ALSO LEARN FROM AFRIDI & ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM TEST CRICKET .

  • jmcilhinney on January 23, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    "With my temperament I can't play Test cricket," he admitted. "A captain should lead by example, which I did not. And if I played the way I played in this match it is better to leave." You've got to respect a guy who is responsible enough to know that he's irresponsible.

  • on January 23, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    Kumble did not call it a day after the third test. He announced his retirement on the last day of the test just before Aus came out to bat.

  • on January 23, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    where is Saurav Ganguly ???

  • 9ST9 on January 23, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    one big ommission is Sanath Jayasuriya - the man retired in the first test against England in 2007, scoring 73 and 4 years later retired from ODI's again mid series (1st Odi vs eng in 2011, here he made only 1).

  • BrianCharlesVivek on January 23, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Is this only during test matches?? IF for ODI's Brian Lara famously announced during 2007 WC before the final league match against ENgland.