November 25, 2013

The quiet goodbyes

After the emotion of Sachin Tendulkar's last Test, a look at some farewells that didn't go quite so well
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Don Bradman
Possibly cricket's most famous anticlimax came at The Oval in 1948, when Don Bradman went out to bat for what, in all probability, was his last Test innings (England had just been skittled for 52, so an Australian second innings already seemed unlikely). Bradman needed only four runs to cement a Test average of 100, but was bowled by his second ball, from the Warwickshire legspinner Eric Hollies. The Don was left with an average of 99.94 - which ironically over the years has become even more famous than if he'd managed three figures.

George Headley
West Indies' first great batsman was so good he was dubbed "the black Bradman" by some. And before the Second World War he lived up to that, averaging 66.71 and carrying his side's batting on his shoulders, to the extent that "Atlas" was another nickname. But after the war, ageing and prone to injury, Headley managed only three further Tests, the last of them at home in Jamaica in 1953-54, when he twice fell cheaply to the England spinner Tony Lock, who was also called for throwing during the match.

Keith Stackpole
The Test career of the popular Australian opener Keith Stackpole came to a quiet end in New Zealand in 1973-74, with a pair in Auckland. That included being out to the first ball of the match, a high full-toss from Richard Hadlee: "I only saw it a yard away from my head," wrote Stacky. "I pulled out of the way, but the ball flicked the end of the bat and flew to first slip. Maybe it was the first time in Test cricket that a fellow was out first ball without the ball ever touching the ground!"

Rahul Dravid
Aged 38, Rahul Dravid was India's batting star as they slipped to a disappointing 4-0 defeat in England in 2011. He made three centuries, including one while carrying his bat at The Oval. He was tempted to call it a day then... but there was still a job to do in Australia. Sadly, conditions there were less to his liking, and Dravid managed a solitary fifty - and four scores of ten and under - as another embarrassing whitewash loomed. One of the longest and most successful of Test careers had come to a quiet end.

WG Grace
WG Grace almost invented the modern game of cricket: he was the first batsman to play forward and back with equal assurance, in the way which is familiar even now. He rewrote the record books, too. But by 1899 he was 50, and somewhat thicker around the waist than before. After the first match of that year's Ashes series, in which he scored 28 and 1, Grace stepped down, mainly because the ground was getting a bit too far away and showing up his fielding. "It's all over, Jacker," he told his team-mate Stanley Jackson mournfully, "I shan't play again."

Ricky Ponting
He was probably Australia's best batsman since Bradman, but eventually time caught up with Ricky Ponting. A glittering international career came to a subdued end in 2012-13 in the home series against South Africa - only 32 runs in five innings, including a rather sad double of 4 and 8 in Perth in the final Test after announcing his retirement. Ponting still finished with a Test average nudging 52.

Andrew Strauss
No one except his nearest and dearest knew Andrew Strauss was going to call it a day after the 2012 Lord's Test against South Africa - his 100th Test match, and 50th as captain. It wasn't quite the perfect ending, though, out cheaply twice as England slipped to defeat in the match and the series, and surrendered their hard-earned No. 1 Test ranking.

Jeff Thomson
Just possibly the fastest bowler who ever lived, Jeff Thomson terrorised batsmen - particularly Poms - in the 1970s. By 1985, though, he had slowed down a bit, and was a late call-up for the 1985 Ashes series after some original choices defected to a rebel tour of South Africa. Late-era Thommo was not so scary: he played only in the first Test (2 for 166 and 0 for 8) and the fifth (1 for 101), and is probably best-remembered for flicking a V-sign at the crowd during that final match at Edgbaston. Still, his wicket there gave him exactly 200 in Tests, 100 of them against England.

Javed Miandad
The long international career of Javed Miandad, which started as a teenager in the inaugural World Cup in 1975, ended in the sixth World Cup in 1996, with a quarter-final defeat to arch-rivals India in Bangalore. Frustrated at batting out of position at No. 6 (and probably even more frustrated at the dying of the light), Miandad scrapped his way to 38 before his run-out virtually sealed the game for India. He walked off with more than 16,000 international runs, and a Test average above 52.

Javagal Srinath
One of India's finest fast bowlers, Javagal Srinath finished up with more than 550 wickets in international cricket. What turned out to be his last match was the 2003 World Cup final - but even the genial Srinath was hard-pressed to crack a smile as Australia ran amok in Johannesburg. They made 359 for 2 - Ricky Ponting 140 not out - and Srinath's ten overs disappeared for 87.

Geraint Jones
Best remembered now as the man who took the catch that ended the 2005 Edgbaston epic, Geraint Jones had a solid career for England, and was an automatic choice between his debut in the West Indies in 2003-04 and the start of the 2006-07 Ashes tour. The vultures were hovering, though, as England slipped to defeat after defeat with Jones contributing little with the bat. Before the third Test, his 34th, Jones had never been out for a duck in 51 innings: but in Perth he bagged a pair. And then he was dropped, and never played again.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Beertjie on November 28, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    For me, Malcolm Marshall's quiet departure at the Oval in '91 stands out. Gooch was his one and only wicket in his final 5 overs. 8 years later he was gone for good.

  • themagpie on November 28, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    It may not be all finished for Gariant Jones. If PNG beat Hong Kong tonight, Jones will be at the T20 World Cup next year.

  • CricketChat on November 27, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    Now that Sachin retired finally, can we leave him alone and follow those actively playing? I feel there is no need to compare everything within his context. Other greats deserve their space under the sun for their contributions.

  • EdwinD on November 26, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Ian Botham's career also finished with a damp squib against the Pakistan side of '92....

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2013, 17:18 GMT

    Quiet Good bye needs clarification.. Don's was not a quite one in terms of fanfare (atleast for those times).. If only by performance, there are many more such great players..

    Suddenly remembering.. Why VVS not in this list? Likes of VVS, Boucher are missing while non-descript Geraint Jones finds a place.. Strange..

  • Omarrz on November 26, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    Geraint Jones? Seriously? He was never a star player. Shoaib Akhter, MoYo and Inzi deserve to be in that list!

  • Pak_suleman on November 26, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Yousaf deserve to be in that list

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    As usual, some miss out. But then this happens. Srinath is only described as one of India's bests, isn't he? Jones is primarily WK; are keepers lesser players than batters? That said, his inclusion at Boucher's expense is highly unwarranted. The association with number11 on such topics seems a bit too obsessive with sports enthusiasts. It tends to draw even more skepticism when 8 batters, 2 bowlers and one WK are seen involved. Okay, Tendulkar's exit was the noisiest. Is that the point being discussed at all? How come the departure of a player who averaged 70+ in his last series and made 173* in his penultimate test toward a record chasing would be quiet while a struggling player's not?

  • dummy4fb on November 26, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    Hummmmm.....i think it needs The quiet goodbyes part 2

    or they knew it is their last but The quiet goodbyes

  • silly.point on November 26, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    @BoonBoom The author writes.. one of INDIA's finest fast bowlers.. do you dispute that?

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