2019 has been a year in international cricket to bid adieu to some of the biggest names in world cricket. Most recently, as the Gladiator of Indian cricket- Yuvraj Singh called the curtains off after attaining some magical feats in his decade long career, we have a scary intuition of what’s kept in store after the ICC World Cup 2019 ends. It’s inevitable but our favourite cricketers are going to hang their boots one day and we will watch them go with a heavy heart.
AB de Villiers’ controversial late offer to play in the World Cup also recently made a row after South Africa‘s World Cup campaign plunged into crisis with successive defeats in the early stages of the tournament. De Villiers, who retired from international cricket last year, had left it too late for the coach as well as the captain to consider him back into the squad after retirement. But, unlike ABD some players walked back into the national side after announcing retirement. Their absence certainly left a big void in the respective teams they were a part of and there was no perfect replacement for these retired cricketers. Teams abysmal form brought these players back to the 22 yards after retirement to have an illustrious comeback. The rest is carved in history!
Let’s look at the 5 greatest comebacks after retirement in International cricket.
5) Kevin Pietersen (England)
Labelled as one of England’s greatest modern day batsman, KP was certainly the best limited over middle order batsmen in international cricket. He has the distinction of being the fastest batsman to reach both 1,000 and 2,000 runs in ODI and has scored over 4000 runs with a staggering average of 40.43. The proud inventor of ‘switch-hitting‘, we can never forget his brand new ideas, new inventions and new shots.
This maverick English batsman announced his retirement on 31st May 2012 from limited overs cricket in order to focus only on Test cricket and let the next generation of players come through to gain experience for the upcoming World Cup in 2015. Although he intended to still play T20 for England, the terms of his central contract disallowed him to do so. However, on 9 July 2012, Pietersen reversed his decision saying that he is committed to playing for England in all forms of cricket and when England toured India in 2012-13 he scored 338 runs in four Tests including a century and two fifties. This took Pietersen to level a record of 22 test hundreds for England. He had a bitter relationship with his board and was eventually told that he was no longer being considered for selection.
4) Shahid Afridi (Pakistan)
Afridi and retirement- still a better love story than Twilight! He holds the record for the fastest ODI century in 37 deliveries and holds the distinction of having hit the most number of maximums in ODI cricket. His retirement and comeback saga started in 2006 when he announced his temporary retirement from Tests but made a comeback in 2010 and that too as captain. He led the side only for one Test and announced his permanent retirement from Tests.
On 30 May 2011, Afridi announced his conditional retirement from international cricket in protest against his treatment by the PCB. Two weeks after his announcement, Afridi was included in Pakistan’s squad to face Sri Lanka. He announced his retirement from ODI after 2011 World Cup citing differences with coach Waqar Younis. This time again he made a comeback to ODI side towards the end of 2011 and played till 2015 World Cup under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq. After Pakistan lost to Australia in the quarter-final of 2015 World Cup Afridi announced his retirement from ODI cricket. In 2017, Afridi announced that he’ll finally quit international cricket after 21 years and would continue to play domestic T20.
3) Carl Hooper (West Indies)
Former West Indies ODI & Test captain – Carl Hooper is one of the most prominent figures in international cricket. He is often remembered for his playing style and was also a strong slip fielder. Hooper holds the record of being the first cricketer in the world to have scored 5,000 runs, taken 100 wickets, held 100 catches and received 100 caps in both ODIs and Tests.
He left the entire cricketing fraternity dumbstruck when he suddenly announced his retirement out of the blue, three weeks before the 1999 World Cup. When the Caribbeans were in their all-time low playing abysmally, Hooper made a surprising comeback in 2001 and captained the West Indies team in the 2003 World Cup.
2) Javed Miandad (Pakistan)
He is undoubtedly the greatest batsman Pakistan has ever produced. Famous for his last-ball six to Chetan Sharma in 1986 against India, Miandad is considered to be among the most pivotal batsmen of all-time. He captained Pakistan on many occasions and holds the record of being the first player to have played in six World Cups.
Javed Miandad announced his retirement from the international game at the age of 36, saying he had been insulted and humiliated by the Pakistani selectors and also mentioned that his decision would be irrevocable. But merely 10 days after the announcement, Miandad made a comeback to international cricket, following a conversation with the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto who asked him to play for the team till 1996 World Cup. This is probably the shortest retirement in cricketing history and Miandad scored only 54 from three innings of the tournament and finally ended his career at the age of 39.
1) Imran Khan (Pakistan)
The current Prime Minister of Pakistan had an eminent cricketing career and is widely acknowledged as Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain. Till date, he is one of the finest all-rounders to have ever played this beautiful game of cricket. The fast bowler became an immediate superstar in 1975 when he picked up five wickets in two ODI matches against England at an average of 11.80. He was a heartthrob among the fans for his dashing personality and style. He took over the captaincy baton from Javed Miandad in 1982. In 1987, Khan led Pakistan in its first-ever Test series win against India in India.
After the 1987 World Cup that was co-hosted by India and Pakistan, Imran Khan announced his retirement from international cricket. However he was asked to return to the captaincy by the then President Zia-Ul-Haq and soon after returning to the captaincy, Khan led Pakistan to another winning tour in West Indies with his splendid bowling figures where he was also declared the Man of The Series. After the comeback, there was no stopping Imran Khan as he led his team to their first and only World Cup victory in 1992.