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Unusual cricket retirements

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Players_cricket_rest_tiredIn news that came as quite a shock, talented English left arm spin bowling all-rounder Zafar Ansari decided to call it quits at the young age of 25 to pursue instead a career in Law.

"After seven years as a professional cricketer and almost two decades in total playing the game, I have decided to bring my cricket career to an end. This has been a very difficult decision to make and I have not made it lightly. I started playing for Surrey at the age of 8 and the club has been a hugely important part of my life since then. Surrey have always completely supported me and I am extremely grateful to the club for their backing over the years. It is, therefore, with great sadness that I say goodbye," Ansari said in his statement. 

"Nevertheless, I have always been clear that when the time was right for me to move on I would, and that time has now come. While the timing may come as a surprise, I have always maintained that cricket was just one part of my life and that I have other ambitions that I want to fulfil. With that in mind, I am now exploring another career, potentially in law, and to achieve this I have to begin the process now.”

Ansari played three Tests in his career after making his ODI debut against Ireland in 2015. The left arm spinner and middle order batsman was a part of the English team that visited India, where he played 2 games, though he did not have much of an effect in either. 

Probably realizing he wasn’t making such an impact and that he might be better off outside cricket, Ansari moved towards pursuing a career in Law.

This might sound bizarre to the many fans used to cricketers who keep playing long after they start graying, but stranger things have happened in the game. Here we take a look at other such instances of early retirements where cricketers decided to head elsewhere:

• Tatenda Taibu

Probably the best known name on this list is Zimbabwe’s wicketkeeper-batsman Tatenda Taibu. The youngest Test Captain in the history of the game, 29 year-old Taibu decided to hang up his boots to serve “God”. 

Surprisingly, Taibu’s decision came on the same day that he was announced in Zimbabwe’s provisional squad for World T20 in 2012.

 "I just feel that my true calling now lies in doing the Lord's work,” Taibu said, "and although I am fortunate and proud to have played for my country, the time has come for me to put my entire focus on that part of my life."

• Alex Loudon

What commonly happens in India, happened in the UK as well. A cricketer gave up his sporting ambition to pursue a career in finance and investments. Warwickshire all-rounder Alex Loudon decided to retire from cricket in 2007, despite being offered a contract for the coming year. 

He said, “I have been very fortunate to have had the chance to play cricket for Warwickshire over the last three years," he said. "Whilst I had been offered a contract for next season, I have decided that the time is now right for me to begin a new career in business. I would like to thank all the people at the club and the supporters, for the three very enjoyable years I have spent with the Bears. I will continue to closely support the club and wish the boys every success for the next season and beyond."

Loudon was touted to be a real talent. In 2005, he was picked for England's tour of Pakistan, where he was hailed as England's elusive "mystery spinner" after bowling Marcus Trescothick with a doosra in the nets at Rawalpindi, though he did not get a game. 

He subsequently did duty with England A in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In 2006 he struggled for form, and while he showed signs of improvement, he was not anywhere near back to his best in his final season. This was probably the reason behind him chasing a more rewarding career in finance. 

• Kieran Powell

In one of its kind incident in cricket, Kieran Powell, backed by his swashbuckling instincts, went to the US with a dream to pursue baseball in January 2016.

"An opportunity came about after a few discrepancies with the West Indies Cricket Board; I decided to take some time off from cricket and some footage of me playing cricket was seen by the LA Dodgers," Powell said. "I've had some training out here in the US for a few months."

In another twist to the tale, this was not a retirement per se. After not enjoying much success in baseball, Powell headed back home and got back into cricket. He has been playing first class cricket for a while and opened in the three Tests against Pakistan

• George Thoms

This is short, yet probably the most intriguing of these stories. 

The 1970s saw some fierce fast bowlers in action and the safety gear present was minimal. This brought a huge fear in the mind of Thoms, who had studied as a surgeon. He quickly gave up the bat and lived his remaining life as a very successful surgeon.

For those wondering how long he was around, it took just 1 Test (and 18 other first class matches) for Thoms to give up the game.

• Salil Ankola

Former Indian fast bowler Salil Ankola played a solitary Test for India, against Pakistan in 1989-90, as well as 20 ODIs. After a tumour ended his sporting career, he followed his Bollywood dreams and became an actor.

 

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