With 2019 coming to an end, let's take a look at the list of cricketers that took retirement from one or all formats of the game this year and review the high and low points of their career.
Lasith Malinga has inspired many young fast bowlers and he is undoubtedly one of the biggest superstars of Sri Lanka. His wiry blonde-streaked hairdo is a young man's go-to hairstyle. On the field, his ability to spear in heat-seeking yorkers and teasing change-up deliveries has flabbergasted the very best in the business.
Batsmen can breathe a sigh of relief now as the skilful pacer from the island of Ceylon stepped away from one-day internationals on July 26 and played his last ODI against Bangladesh in his hometown Colombo this year.
He remains the only ODI bowler to have picked up four wickets off four consecutive deliveries—a feat he achieved against South Africa during the 2007 World Cup.
"I am very happy to leave at this time. This is an opportunity for new players to prove themselves and prepare for the next World Cup," said Malinga.
Malinga will continue to show his dexterity in the shortest format where he is still a force to reckon with and continues to be hunt by franchise owners. Malinga left ODI cricket on a high note as Sri Lanka's third-highest wicket-taker with 335 scaps in 219 innings.
He sits behind Muttiah Muralitharan (523) and Chaminda Vaas (399) who are topping the charts in the wickets column.
Malinga celebrates a wicket ©AFP
Mohammad Amir hung his boots from Test cricket on July 27 after playing just 36 Tests in which he bagged 119 wickets. His career was on a standstill in the aftermath of 2010 spot-fixing-saga and he withered away into oblivion in the years of wilderness.
Amir had a fairy-tale start of his white-ball career as he became the youngest bowler to bag 50 wickets, and that too in a mere 14 games. The world was awestruck with his prowess when he first burst onto the scene.
It appeared as if he had grandiose plans for Test cricket but his declining interest in the format made it difficult for the management to keep him motivated. It was sad to see him announce speedy retirement from cricket's most sacred format.
“I want to thank all my team-mates as well the opponents in red-ball cricket. It has been a privilege to play with and against them," said Amir.
Early days of Amir's career © PA Photos
Jack of all trades, Shoaib Malik represented Pakistan in 287 One-Day-Internationals and piled up 7,534 runs at an average of 34.55. He made his debut way back in 1999 against West Indies and his handy - more than a part-time - off-spin earned him 158 wickets. His retirement didn't come as a surprise as it was pre-planned affair and the ICC ODI World Cup 2019 was destined to be his last major tournament.
The Sialkot-born took over the reins from Inzamam-ul-Haq at the age of 25 after the debacle in 2007 WorldCup. His stint as a leader lasted for only two years and he was sacked for 'allegedly' lukewarm performance as a leader.
His insouciant lofty shots down the ground, use of the long handle and his coveted ability to step up in pressure situations puts him in the books of finest all-rounders that have emerged from Pakistan.
"I never thought that I will play 20 years for Pakistan but when you play with hard work and honesty you achieve the best and that happened with me," said Shoaib.
Malik expressed his desire to continue T20I cricket until 2020 WorldCup in Australia and given Pakistan's shoddy performance in the shortest format of late and Misbah-ul-Haq's policy of keeping the doors open for high performing players, it looks like it is only a matter of time before the likes of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik are called back in the team.
Shoaib Malik raises his bat to the gallery © Getty Images
The New Zealand legend, Brendon McCullum, retired from all forms of cricket in August 2019 after finishing his stint with Toronto Nationals in Global T20 Canada. Attributed to instilling a change in mindset in Black Caps, he spearheaded Kiwis to the final of ICC 2015 ODI World Cup. The audacious opener had been a bugbear for many bowling attacks. Four years following his international retirement, he bowed out from the game that he cherished since his childhood.
Renowned for hard-hitting skills, McCullum's unorthodox and attacking leadership coupled with go get him attitude guided the Black Caps to the 2015 World Cup final where they were beaten by Australia and the current team is also reaping the rewards of McCullum's school of thought that has made New Zealand a tough side to beat.
McCullum is the highly sought after player in lucrative T20 leagues across the globe and has been a trendsetter. He was stupendously strong through square of wicket and latched onto anything loose in his arc. It won't be an overstatement if we associate redefining batting and he found his mojo in the shorter format which is tailor-made for his style of batting as demonstrated in the inaugural edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) where he bludgeoned 158 off a paltry 78 balls. The innings proved to be a watershed moment for the league as he set the ball rolling with the jaw-dropping power-hitting show.
"I owe it to myself and the teams I represent to close that chapter rather than just plough on regardless of what I know to be true," he remarked.
McCullum led the Black Caps to 2015 World Cup Final © Getty Images
The stylish right-hand bat from South Africa, who has a calm demeanour on and off the field, called it quits on August 8 from international cricket. One of the finest technicians and sweet timer of the ball, Amla has tumbled many records and has been the quickest to 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs. Amla scored 311* against England in 2012 which remains the highest score by any South African till date.
The classy batsman scored 9282 runs at a staggering average of 46.64 in 124 Test matches and thumped 28 centuries and 41 fifties in a career that spanned15 years. Hashim Amla was named South Africa's cricketer of the year in 2010 and 2013.
He amassed 8113 runs across 181 ODIs at an astounding average of 49.46 and played his last international game against Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup where he blazed an unbeaten 80-run-knock and ended his career on a high.
A distinct technique characterized by a loopy backlift and endowed with crafty wristwork, Amla ranks right up there with the modern-day greats. He won the man of the series award in his side's triumph over England away from home in 2012 - the series in which Amla scored his career-best 311 and remained unbeaten.
In Test format, he finished just behind Jacques Kallis in the runs drawer and was the No. 1 ranked batsman in 2013 when he was at the pinnacle of his career.
Amla is a true embodiment of cricket's gentleman reputation and has played the game with true sportsman spirit.
"I would like to thank my parents for their prayers, love and support, it is their shadow over me that enabled me to play for years under the Protea sun. Also, my family, friends and agent, my teammates and every member of the support staff throughout this incredible journey. A heartfelt thank you to every one of you," said Amla.
Amla retired this year after an illustrious career ©AFP
The quintessential limited-overs cricketer from India has annihilated bowling attacks for fun and particularly haunted Stuart Broad's dreams in the maiden T20 World Cup where he hit the back then, 'novice bowler' for six sixes! The swashbuckling batsman decided this year to pull down the curtains after playing for India in 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is.
"After 25 years, in and around 22 yards, and after almost 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on," Yuvraj said at the end of this year's IPL season.
Yuvraj, the juggernaut of limited-overs cricket, was part of the World Cup-winning side in 2011 where he was on song with the bat, struck four crucial half-centuries and contributed with the ball as well.
He was adjudicated player of the tournament for his stellar performances. Immediately after the tournament, he had to endure great personal strife as he suffered from cancer but he fought valiantly - like throughout his cricket career - and took the field again, epitomizing the virtue of courage and bravery with his resolve and never-say-never attitude.
Yuvraj points to the gallery after reaching a milestone ©Getty Images
The pugnacious Lahore born Proteas leg-spin wizard retired from ODIs after the ICC 2019 ODI World Cup. Tahir played for South Africa in 95 ODIs, took 156 scalps at an average of 24. Imran, with his sleight of hand and cunning variations, flummox the batsmen with searing wrong un's, quick leg-breaks and the attacking leading spinner has got an energy-sapping frenzied wicket celebration, on top of his bag of tricks, which is quite popular among fans.
There is seldom a dull moment when Imran is in action. After acquiring South Africa's citizenship, the spin-magician was fast-tracked to the national team and played his first WorldCup in 2011. He ended the tournament as the second leading wicket-taker among South Africa's bowlers and didn't look back since then.
Mentored by late Abdul Qadir, Imran played the game with unebbing passion and with a heavy heart, he decided to end his ODI career at the age of 40 even though he would have liked to just go on and on but you can't wrestle against the telomeres.
"I don't want to lose my spot. I have to work twice as hard, they are younger than me. I just want to be honest, I don't want to leave, but that's how it is. There is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions, this is one of those big decisions, it is definitely the biggest decision of my life. I also feel there are a couple of good spinners in the country who need the opportunity," said Imran.
Imran is the mainstay of all T20 leagues and is regarded as a wicket-taking option as he often outfoxes players with his skill-set.
Imran Tahir in his typical pumped up celebration ©AFP
Zimbabwe's iconic player Hamilton's career lasted 19 years. He had seen it all in his long cricket career amidst all sorts of chaos and turbulence in the board. In 2001, he announced himself emphatically on the international stage with a hundred against West Indies at just 17.
He made a smooth transition into the limited-overs format and provided many flying starts to Zimbabwe while coming in to bat as an opener. In 2009, he plundered 1000 runs at a staggering average of 43 in ODIs.
"Throughout my international career, it has always been about giving everything to the team, playing with dignity, and upholding the spirit of the game," said Hamilton.
He is now serving as the director of Zimbabwe Cricket and has got his work cut out as the team finds itself embroiled in crisis.
Indian team captain Mithali Raj took early retirement from T20I cricket this year in a bid to focus on the upcoming 2021 ODI World Cup. She spearheaded the side in 32 T20Is and ended her career with an exceptional record. She became the leading run-scorer in India by accumulating 2364 runs at a healthy average of 37.5.
Mongia made his debut for India in 2001 against Australia and went on to represent the country in 57 ODIs, scoring 1230 runs at an average of 27.95. He has 14 wickets to his name but after a long career and with age not in his side, he decided to call time on his career this year.
The 43-year-old cricket fanatic from England retired from first-class cricket career at the end of 2019 county season after playing for 27 consecutive seasons for Somerset. The run machine gathered 19,654 first-class runs in 296 matches.
In his glittering career, the right-hand bat made 76 Test appearances for England, scored 5,825 runs in an international career. He was part of the rivetting Ashes battle in 2005 that England won in a dramatic fashion.
A gun-fielder and safe as a house in slips, he has shared the dressing room with quite a few generations of cricketers in County Championships.
Somerset's main man thumped most number of centuries (66) for his beloved club and has definitely etched his name in the history books.
"It has been an incredible 27 years and I've loved every minute of it. However, everything has to come to an end eventually. The club, the members and the supporters mean so much to me. There are so many memories that I will cherish forever and Somerset will always hold a truly special place in my heart," Trescothick said.
The stalwart of Somerset retired from all forms of cricket ©Getty Images
The most capped female Australian cricketer announced recently that the ongoing Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) will be her swansong event. She retired from international cricket last year after representing Australia in 251 games.
Not only did she stamped her authority on the cricket field, but she is also an accomplished genetic counseller. She has been an advocate of female sports, inclusivity in cricket and raised her voice for pay parity regardless of gender and other parochial policies.
Alex led the side to 2010 World Twenty20 title victory and Ashes 2011. Immediately after her retirement, her teammates Rene Farrell and Kristen Beams joined Alex and hung their boots as well.
Ireland strike bowler Tim Murtagh - who can move the ball like a swinging door - retired from international cricket in November 2019 after being roped in by Middlesex for a two-year contract.
He had to give up playing for Ireland to continue his career with the county, for which he has taken 1000 wickets, as England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) changed Ireland players category from non-overseas to overseas after they got promoted to Test status.
Murtagh took a fifer in the only Test match against England at the iconic Lord's cricket ground in July this year and plucked out six wickets in two innings against Pakistan in May 2018—where they were agonizingly close to pulling off a major upset.
"I made a promise to Angus Fraser when I first started playing international cricket that if I ever had to make a choice between playing for Ireland or rewarding Middlesex for the commitment they'd shown to me over the years, that I would commit to finishing my playing days at Lord's," Murtagh said.
Proteas off-spinner took retirement from all forms of cricket in January after Hobart Hurricanes lost to Sydney Sixers in Big Bash League. Botha stated fitness issues as the primary reason behind his sudden retirement after successful stints with various teams in Australia.
Johan quit from international cricket in 2012 after representing South Africa in 78 ODIs and 40 T20Is. The off-spinner had the honour of leading the national team in 21 matches.
With a solid temperament and great control, he would often bowl economical spells at crucial junctures of the game and provide a lot of utility to the side as he chipped in with the bat down the batting order as well.
Just after playing five first-class matches, left-arm-spinner from Australia Michael Beer got his maiden Test cap against England during 2010-2011 Ashes and his selection was helped by the recommendation of great Shane Warne who upon retirement saw Beer as an immediate spin-bowling option.
He has toiled hard in domestic cricket and has been a consistent performer in BBL but it has been difficult for the spinner to cement his spot in the national team. The 34-year-old played in all BBL seasons thus far.
"I'm very excited about the next phase of my life, spending time with my family and putting more focus on my coaching. I still really enjoy being around the game and look forward to building on some of the coaching opportunities I've had this year," Michael said.
New Zealand all-rounder Luke Woodcock retired this year at the end of Plunket Shield. He made his debut against Pakistan in a T20I in Hamilton and played three T20Is and four ODIs for the Black Caps. Luke had a pretty impressive domestic cricket record; he scored 10,594 runs and took 339 wickets in 384 matches.
"Winning four-day matches is extremely difficult so it's a pretty satisfying winning those. I'll miss the banter too - I've copped a bit and given a bit in my time," said Luke.