2014 witnessed the coming-of-age of modern day cricketers across the globe. At the same time, a few custodians of the game took a back seat and decided to hang up their gloves. Some were expected, while some weren’t. Here are 5 cricketers who surprised us with theirretirements this year:
1. Graeme Smith: 2002-2014
Nobody anticipated Graeme Smith bowing out of international cricket in the middle of a series. His lean patch may have been the biggest reason for choosing to retire on his home soil. South Africa’s blue-eyed boy became their youngest captain when he took over the reins at 22. Since then, Smith played in 117 Test matches and scored 27 Test hundreds – none of which came in a defeat. But when he finally called it quits after 12 glorious years, it was hard to see the shepherd go.
2. Jacques Kallis: 1995-2014
Jacques Kallis has been around for so long, it is almost impossible to imagine a South African cricket team without him. The veteran retired from Test cricket last year, but aimed to continue in ODIs until the 2015 World Cup. However, that didn’t happen owing to poor form in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. Kallis put an abrupt end to his illustrious career that spanned 19 years of relentless cricket. The Proteas will never be the same without their best all-rounder!
3. Mahela Jayawardene: 1997-2014
145 Tests, 11,493 runs, 50+ average – Time was just about right for 37-year old Mahela Jayawardene to hang up his whites. One of the modern-day greats, Jayawardene was an astute captain who led his team with pride. Mahela stood like a rock in Sri Lanka’s batting line-up and his fans could never get enough of his gorgeous cover drives. Conquering the 2015 World Cup remains his only ambition, before he bids adieu to the game he cherished for 18 long years.
4. Kumar Sangakkara: 2000-2015
Despite being in terrific ODI form lately, Kumar Sangakkara remained firm on his decision to quit ODIs post the 2015 World Cup. The fact that he will continue playing Tests might be the only reprise for his fans for a while. The Southpaw has been an accomplished cricketeracross formats. To retire at this peak might sound a bit strange, but Sanga has it all planned. His retirement will draw curtains on a stunning 15-year career.
5. MS Dhoni: 2005-2014
Just when fans of the sport thought they had enough of these iconic retirements, India’s captain cool throws in a surprise! On the penultimate day of 2014, MS Dhoni bid farewell to Test cricket after 9 years of serving the game and the country. It is a given that we, as fans, will miss his chirpy voice behind the stumps. But above all, it is his leadership that will constantly remind us of his impact on the Indian team. Stick around in ODIs, Mahi!
The departure of these stalwarts is definitely a loss to their respective teams, but it only makes 2015 a lot more interesting! With new talent emerging, here’s hoping for an exciting year ahead in the world of cricket!