Morne Morkel, 33, has announced that the Australian series would be his last in international cricket. 33 is definitely not an age to retire, which is why his decision has come as a surprise to many in the cricketing world.
Morkel admitted that there is still a lot of cricket left with him, but that he took the decision due to the demanding international cricket schedule and to spend time with his young family.
Early retirement is not something which is new to cricket as a handful of players have opted for retirement during their early 30s. In this article, we look at five immensely talented players who retired earlier than expected. These players have left a lot of memories to look back and cherish.
The Kiwi speedster was a devastating fast bowler in his pomp. New Zealand won 10 of the 18 Tests Bond played in. He was furiously fast and had the habit of battering the stumps and toes consistently with his deadly yorkers. His unique ability to swing the ball both ways at genuine pace sent shudders through all batsmen.
However, Bond’s career was plagued with injuries. The recurrence of back problems, knee troubles, abdominal tear and stress fractures forced Bond to the sidelines. His back injury was the most severe and he could never recover from that.
Bond’s career highlight was the 2003 World Cup, where he took 17 wickets at a remarkable average of 17.94. But the injuries resurfaced and he was forced to call it a day soon after his return to international cricket.
Bond retired from Test cricket in December 2009 at the age of 34. Had he been injury free, he could well have become one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of cricket.
Brendon McCullum is the most prolific cricketer that New Zealand has produced. He made his Test debut against South Africa in 2004 and was one of the most feared batsmen of his time.
McCullum is the first man to play 100 successive Tests since his Test debut against South Africa in 2004. He is also the only Kiwi batsman to score a triple century in Tests, and only the second cricketer to hit 100 sixes in Tests after Adam Gilchrist.
He retired after the Test against Australia in Christchurch in February 2016 at the age of 35. No one saw his retirement coming as he was fit and performing well.
In his last international match, McCullum broke the record for the fastest century in Test cricket history. He belted the potent Australian attack for 145 runs off just 79 balls and ended his magnificent career on a high.
Graeme Smith took over the reins from Shaun Pollock after the 2003 World Cup, becoming the youngest captain to lead South Africa at 22. He took the responsibility of rebuilding the team and exceeded expectations as captain.
Smith is the only captain to lead the team for 100 Tests, recording 50 Test wins. He also holds the record for the most Test runs and most centuries as a captain.
The tour of England in 2003 was a memorable one for Graeme Smith. He made back-to-back double hundreds, and his 259 remains the highest score by a foreigner at Lord’s.
As captain, Smith always led from the front. His trademark moment was act of true valor that he displayed during the Test at Sydney in 2009, when he came to bat with a broken hand to save the game. It was an innings which will be remembered forever among cricket fans.
Smith announced his retirement at the age of 33 and played his last Test against Australia at Newlands in 2014. His reason was lack of form, as he scored only 45 runs in the six innings that he played in the series. Smith also cited his young family as a reason he wanted to move past the rigors of international cricket.
Flintoff made his international debut for England against South Africa in 1998, and he matured to become one of the finest all-rounders of all time. He was anointed the next Ian Botham by the English people, and for good reason.
Flintoff was always up for a contest and never hesitated to give 100 percent on the field. His fans loved him for this attitude. However, he was also notorious for his off-field controversies.
The 2005 Ashes win is something English fans will cherish forever. Flintoff’s contribution in that series was outstanding; he contributed both with the bat and ball. His Man-of-the-series performance was compared to Sir Ian Botham’s heroics in the 1981 Ashes.
Flintoff suffered a series of injuries right through his career. In 2009, he sustained a knee injury and couldn’t make a comeback to international cricket. Flintoff announced his retirement at the age of 33 from all forms of cricket in September 2010. Post-retirement he turned to professional boxing.
Flintoff’s name can be found at the Lord’s honors board both in batting and bowling. Very few all-rounders have achieved this distinction.
Michael Clarke made his international debut against England in an ODI at Adelaide in the year 2003, and he made his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004 – where he scored a valiant century. There was no looking back after that as he evolved to become one of the most exceptional players in the world.
Clarke took over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting in 2011 and enjoyed a purple patch for a brief period, as he smashed 12 centuries in his first 30 Tests as captain which included one triple century and a couple of double centuries.
In 2014, the demise of Phil Hughes, his close friend and teammate, had a huge impact on Clarke’s career. Even though Clarke showed immense maturity and great composure to handle the pain, he was never the same batsman that he was before.
He announced his retirement from international cricket in 2015 at the age of 34. Clarke even admitted that he should have retired immediately after Phil Hughes’s demise.
Clarke is the only Australian to score centuries on both home and away Test debuts. He is also the only cricketer to score four double centuries in a single calendar year.