Bangladesh batsman Aftab Ahmed has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014-15 season. He said that his focus will turn to coaching and setting up an academy in his hometown of Chittagong.
He will play the upcoming season's Dhaka Premier League for Brothers Union after switching over from Gazi Tank Cricketers on the first day of player transfers being held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The decision comes as a surprise, since Aftab is a few months short of his 29th birthday and still fit. But he said that the state of his playing career was what prompted the decision. Last season he averaged 23.81 for Gazi Tank and 18.20 in three first-class games.
"This is my last Premier League, I don't wish to play any longer," Aftab said. "It wasn't based on any emotional factors. It is completely a personal decision. This is my last year. You all please pray that I can leave on a high."
"Cricket has become tough. Club officials think in a different way. I got a very low offer this year. So by putting everything into consideration, I thought this is the right time. If I had taken a bit longer, it wouldn't be good for me. This is how I came to this decision."
He is yet to gain higher level coaching credits, but wants to help Chittagong get out of the mire in cricket development. Not since Nazimuddin, who debuted in 2007, has Bangladesh's second-largest city produced an international cricketer.
"I am setting up a cricket academy in Chittagong, which will be opened in the near future," he said. "I want to take my coaching career to a very good level. Currently cricket in Chittagong is in bad shape, so I wish to take it to a better place."
Aftab played just 11 Tests for Bangladesh but he was more of an ODI player, winning 85 caps. He famously hit Jason Gillespie for a six in the last over of Bangladesh's miraculous win over Australia in Cardiff in 2005.
But three years later, he would join the rebel Indian Cricket League and be shunned by the BCB. He did make it back to the Bangladesh team in 2010, only to play two more Tests, averaging 17.00, and making just 80 runs in five ODIs. His last international match was in the World T20 that year.
"The start of my career doesn't really reflect what I eventually became as a player," he said. "The ICL had a profound effect on my career at a crucial time. I mean, I couldn't really end my career as I would have wanted. Still, I think people loved me for the way I played the game."