Pakistan pacer Umar Gul on Saturday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after the ongoing National T20 Cup.
The 36-year-old cricketer, who played his last match for Pakistan — an ODI — in 2016, featured for Balochistan team in the National T20 Cup, which ends on Sunday. His side lost against Southern Punjab (Pakistan) in Rawalpindi on Friday.
After the game, a visibly emotional Gul thanked his family, coaches and team-mates throughout his career, and was given a guard of honour by both sets of players.
Gul, from Peshawar, retires as a modern great of Pakistan fast bowling. He was the leading wicket-taker during Pakistan’s run to the 2007 World T20 final, and also the leading wicket-taker in the 2009 edition when Pakistan won the trophy. He spent much of this time heading the world T20 rankings, with a reputation as the best yorker bowler in the format.
His career-best, five for 6 against New Zealand at the World T20 in 2007 were, at the time, the best T20 bowling figures. Currently, he’s part of PCB’s cricket committee.
“It has been an honour to represent my club, city, province and country at various levels for two decades,” Gul said after the game.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my cricket, which has taught me the values of hard work, respect, commitment and determination. During this journey, I have had the pleasure of meeting numerous people who have helped and supported me in some way. I want to thank all those people as well as my teammates and peers for their support.”
“I owe a big thank you to the fans who supported me throughout my journey. They have been an inspiration, especially at times when the going was not great,” he said.
“Lastly, I thank my family for standing firmly behind me throughout my career and helping me to cherish my dreams of not only playing cricket but travelling across the country and globe. They have sacrificed a lot, while I too have missed their presence and company. I now look forward to spending valuable time with them but it will be difficult to stay away from cricket and I now look forward to giving back to the sport and the country that has made me one of the most fortunate people on the planet,” Gul added.
“With a very heavy heart and after a lot of thinking, I have decided to bid farewell to all formats of cricket after this National T20 Cup,” Umar tweeted.
“I have always played for Pakistan with all my heart and 100% of hardwork. Cricket is and will always be my love and passion but all good things have to come to an end,” he added.
“Praying that the future will hold much more for me. Secondly, I would like to thank @TheRealPCB and all the coaches and people who have been a part of my cricketing journey. Special thanks to media, my fans and followers who made it all worthwhile and supported me at all times. Thank you so much,” he said.
The Peshawar-born Gul made his international debut in an ODI in 2003. He played his first Test that year itself. His last Test was against South Africa in 2013.
From 47 Test matches, Gul took 163 wickets at an average of 34.06. He also claimed 179 wickets from 130 ODIs, besides 85 wickets from 60 T20Is.
He was a regular member of the national team until a knee injury surfaced in 2012. He took on more responsibility in long-form cricket and became the leader of the Pakistan attack after the spot-fixing bans on Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif in 2010. However, injuries put an end to his hopes of sustaining that spell in his career as he missed large parts of 2013 and 2014, which needed surgery in Australia.
He had not been centrally contracted since and was also left out of the 2015 World Cup squad. While he did make a comeback in 2016, it was all too brief as the Pakistan selectors and the team management seem to have moved on.
With inputs from ESPNcricinfo