November 11, 2013

You'll be missing me

As the world prepares for Sachin Tendulkar's last hurrah, a look at some successful farewells

Steve Waugh
Waugh's glittering career brought him more than 10,000 runs in 168 Tests, a record at the time. Unusually, though, he wasn't on the winning side in his last match - a draw against India in Sydney in January 2004 - after a sentimental season-long goodbye. The script demanded that Waugh should bow out with a century, but after reaching 80 in his final innings, as Australia made a gallant attempt to chase 443, Waugh swept uppishly to square leg, where he was caught by a sheepish Sachin Tendulkar, who then ran over to shake his hand.

Nasser Hussain
A farewell hundred, swiftly followed by the winning runs... and at Lord's too: that's how Hussain bowed out of Test cricket, after his 103 not out helped England beat New Zealand early in the summer of 2004. Very few people knew that this was his last innings, but Hussain did - and announced his official retirement shortly afterwards despite being only four caps short of 100.

Seymour Nurse
The hard-hitting Nurse had announced before the third Test in Christchurch in 1968-69 that it would be his last, and he marked it with a superb 258, still the highest score for West Indies against New Zealand. Several people - including his fellow Barbadian and captain, Garry Sobers - tried to persuade Nurse to carry on, but he stuck to his retirement plan.

Muttiah Muralitharan
Murali piled the pressure on himself by announcing that the first Test against India in July 2010, in Galle, would be his last: he went into it with 792 Test wickets. Rain threatened to play spoilsport, washing out the second day, but Murali looked back on track to reach 800 when he took five wickets as India subsided towards a follow-on. The magic figure looked on when he took two more as India declined to 197 for 7, but the last three wickets hung on for more than 50 overs as Murali (and the crowd) became increasingly frustrated. Finally there was one wicket left, with the local hero stuck on 799, and he narrowly missed a chance to run someone out. Finally Pragyan Ojha edged low to slip, and Murali could walk into the sunset with exactly 800 Test wickets to his name.

Chappell, Lillee, Marsh
Three of the biggest names in Australian cricket took their leave of Test cricket in Sydney in January 1984. Greg Chappell signed off with 182, which took him past Don Bradman as Australia's highest scorer at the time. He also broke the record for catches by a fielder. Dennis Lillee took eight wickets to end with 355, while Rod Marsh's six catches left him neatly perched alongside his big mate with 355 dismissals as well.

Imran Khan
There aren't many better ways to go than by captaining your team to victory in the World Cup - and that's how Imran ended his international career, early in 1992. After shoring up Pakistan's faltering innings against England in Melbourne with a responsible 72, the 39-year-old Imran defied shoulder pain to bowl, and claimed the last wicket, to seal a 22-run triumph. He never played seriously again.

Sunil Gavaskar
Sachin Tendulkar's predecessor as India's "Little Master" signed off from Test cricket (although no one knew that at the time) with one of his greatest innings, a brilliant 96 on a treacherous pitch to take India close to victory over Pakistan in Bangalore in March 1987. When he finally fell, the other batsmen were quickly polished off and Pakistan won the match, and the series, by just 16 runs. Gavaskar actually bowed out after the World Cup that year, scoring his only one-day century in his penultimate such match (his 107th).

Glenn McGrath
Australia's metronomic fast bowler managed a double sendoff that would be hard to beat. In his last Test, in Sydney in January 2007, he took six wickets as Australia completed a satisfying 5-0 whitewash over England in the Ashes series. Then, in his final one-day international a few months later, Australia retained the World Cup by beating Sri Lanka in the final in Bridgetown.

Bill Ponsford
He might have been rather overshadowed by Don Bradman, but Ponsford scored two first-class quadruple-centuries, which even the Don never quite managed. And in his last Test match, at The Oval in 1934, Ponsford - for whom cricket was never quite the same after Bodyline - made 266, and shared a then-record partnership of 451 with Bradman (244). He played only one more first-class match after that 1934 tour, and retired with an average of 65.

Aravinda de Silva
One of Sri Lanka's finest batsmen, and arguably their most stylish, de Silva signed off from Test cricket with 206 against Bangladesh in Colombo in July 2002. He was rested from the next match, and retired not long afterwards, thus becoming one of only five men to have scored a double-century in their final Test. The others are Seymour Nurse and Bill Ponsford (see above), Andy Sandham (325 for England v West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30), and nightwatchman Jason Gillespie (201 not out for Australia v Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2005-06).

Barry Richards
As South Africa powered their way to a 4-0 whitewash of Australia in Port Elizabeth in 1969-70, Richards made 126 in their second innings and Lee Irvine 102. They turned out to be South Africa's last Test centuries for 22 years, as the country's apartheid policy led to them being ostracised from world sport. It meant that the international career of Richards, one of the greatest of all batsmen, was over after just four matches, in which he scored two hundreds. "If I'd known that was my last Test," he said later, "they'd never have got me out."

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2013