2021 was the year of retirement. In the first two months itself, as many as eight cricketers had hung their boots. Later as the year progressed, the likes of Ross Taylor, Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers also called it quits. West Indies’ failure to win another T20 title meant Dwayne Bravo also calls time on his international career. We take a look at the high profile names who left the game never to return.
Ross Taylor (New Zealand)
Veteran batsman Ross Taylor retired from international cricket at the end of the New Zealand’s home season, bringing the curtains down on a journey that began in an ODI in Napier against West Indies in March 2006.
Ending speculation over his playing future, the 37-year-old confirmed on Thursday (December 30) that the forthcoming two-Test series against Bangladesh will be his last in the New Zealand whites. He will not play the subsequent Tests against South Africa and bow out with six ODIs against Australia and Netherlands later in the summer.
Ab de Villiers (South Africa)
Arguably the biggest retirement of the year, AB hanging the boots made news all over. And why not? He wasn’t your average cricketer. He was a multi-talented sportsperson; mind you, he was an excellent hockey player and perhaps he took a leaf out of it while scooping bowlers all across the park as RCB fans chanted “Ab Ab.” Indian fans loved him and he knew it.
That’s why his thank you note had a ‘dhanyawad’ in it. He had already retired from international cricket back in 2017, and one fine November evening he made it clear he is no longer interested in playing franchise cricket. “It has been an incredible journey, but I have decided to retire from all cricket,” he said in a tweet. “Ever since the backyard matches with my older brothers, I have played the game with pure enjoyment and unbridled enthusiasm. Now, at the age of 37, that flame no longer burns so brightly,” he added.
Dwayne Bravo (West Indies)
Bravo, who has appeared at all seven T20 World Cups and helped West Indies lift the trophy in 2012 and 2016, has 90 T20I caps for his country, scoring 1245 runs and picking up 78 wickets. He has more than 500 appearances in the T20 format overall.
After making his international debut in 2004, Bravo also played in 40 Tests, scoring 2200 runs at an average of 31.42 and taking 86 wickets. He also has 2968 runs and 199 wickets to his name from 164 ODIs.
He played in 90 T20s for the West Indies since making his debut against New Zealand at Auckland in 2006. He also scored 1,245 runs at an average of 22.23 and a strike rate of 115.38.
“I think the time has come,” the 38-year-old Bravo told ICC’s post-match show on Facebook. “I’ve had a very good career … had some ups and downs, but as I look back at it, I’m very grateful to represent the region and the Caribbean people for so long.”
Dale Steyn (South Africa)
In his prime, Dale Steyn would scare batters with his fierce look which was complemented with a smooth run-up. As he aged, the run-up became iffy and the workload became hard to manage. Yet, Steyn produced some brilliance on the field. His rivalry with England’s James Anderson aroused fans across the world. “It’s been 20 years of training, matches, travel, wins, losses, strapped feet, jet lag, joy, and brotherhood. There are too many memories to tell. Thank you to everyone, from family to teammates, journalists to fans, it’s been an incredible journey together,” Steyn wrote on 31 August 2021. He had constant run-ins with injury and had to call time on his Test career in 2019. He still had an eye on the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020, before that tournament was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He played 93 Test matches, picking 439 wickets at a stunning average of 22.95 – he finished eighth on the all-time list of wicket-takers. He also played 125 ODIs, picking 196 wickets at 25.95, and 47 T20Is, in which he claimed 64 at 18.35.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in September this year. Malinga finishes with 546 international wickets. With 107 wickets in T20Is, Malinga is the leading wicket-taker in the format, just one more than Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan. Malinga bows out with a splendid career for Sri Lanka. His biggest achievement came in 2014 when he led his country to T20 World Cup win in Bangladesh. He is the only bowler to claim five hat-tricks in limited-overs cricket – three in ODIs and two in T20Is.
“Hanging up my #T20 shoes and #retiring from all forms of cricket! Thankful to all those who supported me in my journey, and looking forward to sharing my experience with young cricketers in the years to come,” Malinga tweeted.
Hanging up my #T20 shoes and #retiring from all forms of cricket! Thankful to all those who supported me in my journey, and looking forward to sharing my experience with young cricketers in the years to come.https://t.co/JgGWhETRwm #LasithMalinga #Ninety9
— Lasith Malinga (@ninety9sl) September 14, 2021
Ryan Ten Doeschate (The Netherlands): Doeschate is and will be one of the most popular Dutch cricketers in India. Firstly, he made a World Cup century against England in 2011 which took place here; secondly, the IPL. Playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, his all-around skills kept him in the business, especially his medium pace which came in handy for then skipper Gautam Gambhir who depended on a number of slow-ball bowlers. The 41-year-old has scored 2074 runs from 57 international Test matches, 1541 runs from 33 One Day Internationals & 533 runs from 24 T20 internationals, since his debut in 2006.
Asghar Afghan (Afghanistan): It was a painful sight to see Asghar Afghan holding off tears as his colleagues gave him a guard of honour in the group game against Namibia in ICC T20 World Cup 2021. In what turned out to be his final match, Asghar scored 31 off 23 balls as Afghanistan finished on 160/5 against Namibia. After the end of the innings, as the broadcaster interviewed the 33-year-old, an emotional Asghar could not hold back his tears.
“I want to give chance to youngsters now. It is the right time for the youngsters come forward. Most of the people asked to continue till the end of the tournament. But I thought this is the right time after the loss in the last game. There are plenty of memories. This is tough for me,” he said.
Upul Tharanga (Sri Lanka): Talented Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga also called time on his career recently. Upul was part of the Sri Lankan set-up for a very long time. His skills as an opener always provided an advantage to Sri Lanka on difficult batting tracks. Although his career was interrupted by many controversies, Upul can look back on his journey as a satisfied man.
Dhammika Prasad(Sri Lanka): Remember Dhammika Prasad? Yes the same guy who had a run in with Ishant Sharma in 2015. Jokes apart, Prasad had been a loyal servant of Sri Lankan cricket since his debut in 2008. He also hung up his boots earlier this year. A consistent performer once, a shoulder injury deterred his career.