International cricket is a demanding task and today there is no denying that. International tours keep cricketers away from families and homes for months together. Additionally, there is intense scrutiny of the press and fans. With the commercialization of the sport, every small detail of a player is under the scanner. This puts the players under an intensely stressful and pressurizing situation.
Bilateral series and franchise cricket can still be managed. However, when countries participate in high-stakes matches with historical enmity, the match pressure compounds players. Tournaments like the ICC competitions, the Ashes series, or an India-Pakistan game is not just simple game of cricket. A loss for the team brings about widespread condemnation and scathing primetime criticism. All of this makes international cricketers wary of taking the field.
Players have taken breaks from cricket to cope with such types of mental stress. We look at 7 times when cricketers retired which left cricket fans shocked the world over.
1. AB de Villiers
One of the best players to have blessed this generation of cricket fans has to be the South African legend, AB de Villiers. He was their most complete batsman in all formats and was expected to lead South Africa in the 2019 ODI and 2020 T20 world cup. However, after the 2018 IPL, AB released a video stating his decision to retire from international cricket after citing that he had “run out of gas.”
2. Brendon McCullum
After leading the Kiwis to an incredible ODI world cup finals in 2015, fans across the globe were looking forward to seeing McCullum lead the Kiwis in the 2016 T20 world cup as well. He was at his destructive best in the 2015 world cup and he revolutionized the way the Kiwis played limited-overs cricket. However, as a shocking decision, he announced his retirement from international cricket in February 2016, two months before the scheduled T20 world cup. He cited the reason of “spending time with family” to take retirement.
3. Jonathon Trott
One of England’s most accomplished middle-order batsmen, Trott has more than 3800 runs against his name in test cricket. It was the return of Ashes in 2013 which was the trigger for Trott to make his abrupt retirement. On the tour to Australia for Ashes, he failed to perform in the first test and announced his decision to fly back home. He stated that he struggled with stress and mental health and needed a break. He did return after a year in the English squad on their tour to the Windies but got 3 ducks in the series. After the end of the third and last test, he announced his decision to quit international cricket.
4. MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni had quit test cricket in 2014 after the Boxing day test. He continued to play limited-overs cricket but in 2017 had handed over captaincy to Virat Kohli. His form had dipped in 2019 and there were murmurs about his days coming to an end. Everyone looked forward to the 2020 ICC T20 world cup as his final adieu to the game. However, the Covid-19 pandemic struck in March 2020 and cricket was on a standstill for the next 6 months. There was still hope among fans to see Dhoni don the India jersey one last time but on August 15, 2020, MS Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket through an emotional video. Needless to say that this left his fans and countrymen devastated.
5. Anil Kumble
A legend in India and the third-highest wicket-taker in the world in tests, Kumble was part of the squad for the Border-Gavaskar series in 2008. He was the captain of the team and was leading the squad in the third test which was being played in Delhi. He suffered a finger injury on the third day of the test. According to Kumble, “the injury helped” him to make the call. He had decided to quit cricket on the night of the fourth day. The formal announcement was made at the tea of the final day which left fans, press and teammates shocked.
6. Ryan Harris
Ryan Harris had an incredible turnaround to his career in 2012 and went on to play one of the key roles in the 2013 Australia leg of the Ashes where Australia thrashed England 5-0. The next couple of years were the highlight of his career and he was expected to spearhead Australia’s bowling in the 2015 Ashes. However, Harris announced a shock retirement after being announced as part of the Ashes squad. He ended his career with 113 scalps at an average of 23.52.
7. Mark Boucher
One of the best cricketers to come out of South Africa was Mark Boucher. His wicket-keeping and batting left fans across the globe glued to their seats. A career that lasted 15 years came to a shocking end. The South Africans were touring England for a series and Boucher was involved in a warm-up game before the series. During the game, a bail flew off and struck his left eye. He was severely injured and had to undergo surgery. Due to the severity of the injury, he had to announce retirement from cricket.