Pakistan fast bowler Umar Gul has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The 36-year old, who represented Pakistan in 47 Tests, 130 ODIs and 60 T20Is, made the decision after his side, Balochistan, were eliminated from the National T20 Cup on Friday night against Southern Punjab. 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.
Hailing from Peshawar, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gul began his career on the under-19 circuit and represented Pakistan in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2002 in New Zealand. He had played just nine first-class matches when he was called up for the national side after Pakistan’s disastrous performance at the 2003 World Cup that saw both Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis fade away. He played 125 first-class, 213 List-A and 167 T20 matches, in which he took a total of 987 wickets.
“It has been an honour to represent my club, city, province and country at various levels for two decades,” said Gul 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. 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 traveling 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’s international career spanned from 2003 to 2016, and he retires as a modern great of Pakistan fast bowling. He was the leading wicket taker during Pakistan’s run to the 2007 ICC World T20 final, and also the leading wicket-taker in the 2009 edition, when Pakistan won the trophy. He spent much of this time ranked atop the T20 rankings in the world, fast developing 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 ever T20 bowling figures.
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 paid 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 hadn’t 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.