Tamim Iqbal retires three months before World Cup

Bangladesh ODI captain makes surprise announcement a day after losing to Afghanistan in Chattogram

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Tamim Iqbal breaks down while speaking to members of the media, Chattogram, July 6, 2023

Tamim Iqbal breaks down while speaking to members of the media in Chattogram  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In a surprise development, Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's ODI captain, has retired from international cricket, barely three months before the World Cup, and bringing to a sudden end a glittering 16-year international career.
Surrounded by a throng of reporters, Tamim was extremely emotional and in tears as he made the announcement at a press conference he arranged in Chattogram on Thursday. It came a day after Bangladesh lost to Afghanistan in the first of three ODIs.
"This is the end for me," he said. "I have given my best. I have tried my best. I am retiring from international cricket from this moment. Yesterday against Afghanistan was my last international game. It was not a sudden decision. I was thinking about the different reasons. I don't want to mention here. I have spoken to my family members about it. I thought this is the right time for me to retire from international cricket.
"I need to thank a few people, which they deserve. I have always said that I played cricket to fulfil my father's dream. So I am not sure how much I have made him proud throughout these 16 years of my international career.
"There are a lot of other people that I need to thank. My youngest chacha (uncle), his name is Akbar Khan. I held his hands to go to my first cricket tournament. I thank him and his family. I thank Tapan da, a coach in MA Aziz Stadium, who was my coach in my childhood. I thank all the players I played with from the U-13, U-15, U-17, U-19s, A team, Premier League, NCL and national team. Especially my national-team colleagues. The cricket board gave me the opportunity to represent the country for so long. I have captained Bangladesh too. I thank them as well.
"I don't have much to say. One thing I will definitely say is, I tried my best. I did try my best. Maybe I was not good enough or good enough. I don't know. But I tried my 100% whenever I was in the field.
"There are a lot of other things I want to say, but as you can see I am almost unable to speak. But I hope you respect the situation. It is not an easy situation to speak. Quitting international cricket is not easy. I hope you understand. I am sorry to call you on such a short notice. I thank you all in the media.
"I also want to thank the fans. Your love and faith in me inspired me to give my very best for Bangladesh. I want to ask for your prayers for the next chapter of my life. Please keep me in your prayers.
"Whoever has helped me to grow as a cricketer and human being, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. My mother, my brother, my wife and two children. They suffered a lot in my journey. They also had much to cherish. I thank them as well. I have nothing more to say."
Tamim chose not to go into the reasons behind his decision, asking only for focus to stay on the team.
"It is the end. At least for international cricket. Let's not poke too much about it. 'Why, why, what is it, what else could have happened.' I have always said that the team is bigger than any individual. Let's focus on the team. Two more games to go in the series. I think we should win. There are two major trophies."
Tamim, 34, had retired from T20Is around the same time last year. His last Test was Bangladesh's one-off match against Ireland in April.
The BCB hasn't named a successor for the ODI captaincy - it didn't name a vice-captain ahead of the series - or responded to Tamim's announcement. Litton Das was Bangladesh's ODI captain against India in December last year when Tamim was injured. Shakib Al Hasan is the regular Test and T20I captain, and is the favourite to take over the role in ODIs now.
Tamim began his international career as a teenager with his ODI debut in February 2007, and made a match-winning half-century in Bangladesh's iconic win against India in the World Cup in the West Indies. He finishes with the most ODI runs (8313) and hundreds (14) for his country, and is the third-highest run-scorer among current cricketers, behind Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
As a Test batter, Tamim scored 5134 runs - the second highest for Bangladesh - at an average of 38.89, with ten centuries in 70 matches.
As ODI captain, Tamim has a marginally higher win percentage than Mashrafe Mortaza, who is considered Bangladesh's best leader. Tamim won 21 out of 37 ODIs as captain, and he led Bangladesh to a third-place finish in the ODI Super League, ensuring their direct qualification for the World Cup in India this October and November. He also captained Bangladesh in one Test match, against New Zealand in 2017.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84