After his side, Balochistan, were knocked out of the National T20 Cup, Umar Gul walked away from all cricket. The mention of Gul's name brings back some sweet memories for Pakistani fast-bowling aficionados. Gul belonged right up there with the best in the country. Maybe not as flashy as his more famous team-mates, Gul was the cricketer's cricketer; no one would talk about him off the field, few would speak of anyone else while he was on it.
Here, we take a look at some of his best performances in T20s - since that's what he signed off with and, really, that's where he was at his best; in truth, we could simply fill it up with entries from the 2007 T20 World Cup, and few would complain. It is, after all, his almost superhuman purple patch in the early days of T20 cricket that Umar Gul will be best remembered for. He was the leading wicket-taker in both the 2007 and the 2009 T20 World Cups, helping Pakistan to the final of both tournaments (and the trophy in the second). He has more T20I wickets than any fast bowler not named Lasith Malinga, and no fast bowler who took more than 35 can boast a better average.
4-0-15-3 - Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2007 T20 World Cup semi-final
Halfway through this game, New Zealand sat relatively comfortably at 72 for 1, with Scott Styris and Brendon McCullum at the crease, as they looked for a strong finish. Shoaib Malik threw the ball to Gul in the 12th over, and as he began to grind through his gears, New Zealand's momentum was cut to ribbons. The first over yielded three, before Gul sent down the first of the yorkers that would become a trademark. Two wickets in his second over saw the back of both Styris and Peter Fulton, before Gul went around the wicket to the big hitting Jacob Oram, a full delivery coaxing an edge through to the keeper. He would tie Ross Taylor up in the 18th over too, allowing just four runs, to finish his spell having given away just 15 runs. By this time, NZ were seven down for 120, and Gul had made the job much easier for Pakistan in the chase.
4-0-28-3 - Pakistan vs India, 2007 T20 World Cup final
One of Gul's best international performances, yet without doubt the most bittersweet. Once more, he was thrust in after India had begun well. Gautam Gambhir had just smashed Shahid Afridi for six, and at 82 for 2 in 11, India were slightly ahead. A wayward first over was followed by the wicket of the in-form Yuvraj Singh, the batsman too early on the shot with Gul completing a smart return catch. It would get better in his next when MS Dhoni tried to smash him out of Johannesburg. Gul's delivery was like a guided missile locked in on its target, and as Dhoni connected with air, Gul left his stumps in a mess. There was time enough to snare Gambhir off his last ball, an attempted yorker the left-hander tried to paddle sweep, only to find Mohammad Asif at short fine-leg. Gul had single-handedly given Pakistan a huge sniff, even though they ended up agonisingly short.
4-0-23-4 - Kolkata Knight Riders vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2008
Gul was a high-value pick in the inaugural edition of the IPL for the Kolkata Knight Riders, and he made good on the hype; only two bowlers - Sohail Tanvir and Shoaib Akhtar - had a better average than him all season. But it was in his final match that Gul served up his best IPL performance. Opening the bowling, he trapped James Hopes in front, before returning at the death to consign Kumar Sangakkara, who had raced to 64, to the same fate. The lower-middle order would then be no match for the yorker specialist, with Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla cleaned up in successive balls to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 174. He would go on to play a role with the bat, too, blitzing 24 off 11 to set up a final-over victory for his side alongside Sourav Ganguly.
3-0-6-5 - Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2009 T20 World Cup
If Gul wanted to have his achievements tattooed on his person, his figures in this match would make the cut. The best T20I figures at the time - to many, the best spell in T20I history no matter what the record books say - Gul ripped the heart out of New Zealand to convert a contest into a cakewalk. Only introduced in the 13th over, Gul made sure New Zealand were done before he could finish his spell. The wicket of Styris - thanks to a 35-metre running catch from Afridi - set things in motion, but it was all Gul thereafter. His devastating yorkers sent Peter McGlashan back, before he returned to rattle the stumps of Nathan McCullum and James Franklin with toe-crushers far better batsmen would have been helpless against. Kyle Mills' scalp completed the five-for, and New Zealand were shot out for 99.
3-0-19-0 - Pakistan vs South Africa, 2009 T20 World Cup semi-final
An unlikely candidate based on the figures, perhaps, but you'd have to remember the game, and the extraordinary tautness of the mood, to understand why this makes the list. Pakistan had set South Africa 150 to chase down for a spot in the final, and Jacques Kallis looked like he had set the foundation for the chase. Gul himself was spanked for ten in his first, but a splendid 17th over, just after Fawad Alam had conceded 15, saw the asking rate soar above 12.
He wouldn't get any wickets, but the length meant Kallis could never get under the ball, and the pendulum swung Pakistan's way. It came down to the penultimate over, with South Africa needing 28, and Gul needed to rein in Albie Morkel and JP Duminy. In a glorious chapter of Golden Age Umar Gul, South Africa had to face six yorkers in a row; they might well have all landed in the same spot for their accuracy. Just six singles were scavenged from that over, and Gul had booked his side another shot at T20 glory.