With 2020 taking its toll on the world after a raging virus laced with its other menacing corollaries wreaked havoc, cricket established itself after a hiatus of almost five months. From desolate stands clad in humongous posters to aligned pathways for cricketers to walk into the ground without any pause, the sport was compelled into its latest incarnation, an avatar that we never could anticipate.
However, once the sport resumed itself, despite safety measures those were alien to cricketers, players did slowly start getting at home with the new normal. As time passed by, the game started getting back to its shape barring the fans, but the craze was more than expected.
A year that disseminated its vice across the cricketing roster, many players chose to pull the plug on their international career. From Test veterans to T20 masters, the year saw an end to several cricketers. We will be looking at a team of eleven cricketers who finally decided to hang their boots after an enduring spell in the cricketing circuit.
Shane Watson and Wasim Jaffer
One of the most dominant all-rounders in cricketing canon, Shane Watson finally chose to bid adieu to his dearest sport after a prolonged career of 18 years. He started his career in 2002 against South Africa and from there he evolved himself into one of the most versatile cricketing figures of all time. Being in a constant contest with Jacques Kallis to claim the top spot for being the best all-rounder in the world, he turned into one of Australia’s most reliable cricketers.
In India’s relentless pursuit of the proper supporter for Virender Sehwag in the opening stand, India stumbled upon a certain Wasim Jaffer. Right since his inception to the international arena, he drew severe humour from the Indian fans for his defensive stance that frustrated the bowlers for a long time. He played his last Test against South Africa in 2008. Finally, in 2020, he officially pulled the curtain on his career.
Ian Bell, Suresh Raina, Marlon Samuels, MS Dhoni (cap) (wk)
Indians would very well remember that hellish knock from Ian Bell that almost helped England clinch a thrilling victory in World Cup defying the mammoth total that India posted on the card in 2011. One of the best partners of Andrew Strauss and a master strokeplayer, Bell was known for his belligerence. He always used to love attacking the bowlers and his classic cover drives were a matter of serious jealousy for other aspiring number-three batsmen.
One of the most underrated batsmen in the Caribbean colours, Marlon Samuels was always an unsung hero. Generally, his starts were slower than expected but once he got in the groove, bowlers had a hard time containing him. However, the introduction of T20 cricket saw a monster unleashed upon the hapless bowlers. He was an exceptionally reliable batsman in the middle and his 260 as his career-best in Test cricket comprised a few classic strokes those were always crafted to be enviable.
Suresh Raina is undoubtedly the best number three for Chennai Super Kings but when it comes to international cricket, the southpaw was always comfortable at number five. His heroic stands with MS Dhoni in Indian colours were always the subject of intense discussions. However, he failed to achieve much limelight in international colours due to his glaring vulnerability against short balls. A few innings from him were special, but they weren’t enough to conjure more international time.
Coming at number six will be the best finisher in the world, MS Dhoni. Before this long-haired lad from Ranchi who was known for decimating the bowlers with his pyrotechnics established himself as a perfect finisher, he established himself as one of the best wicket-keepers, rubbing shoulders with the numbers of the legendary Adam Gilchrist. Making his debut in 2004, Dhoni went through an inhuman transformation, notching up the highest laurels in whatever contest he dabbled himself in. After 2020 casting a cruel shadow over the world, the Indian wicket-keeper finally bade adieu to the sport.
Irfan Pathan, Mohammad Amir, Sachitra Senanayake, Graham Onions and Pragyan Ojha
Though Irfan Pathan’s career came to an unofficial end a decade back, he was one of the most talented all-rounders who made his appearance for India. His maiden Test wicket was of Adam Gilchrist and the delivery that claimed Gilly was an absolute screamer, drifting a mile to the outside after landing on the middle-stump. One of the major reasons for the downfall of Irfan Pathan was his quandary to choose between batting and bowling. Under the chaperonage of Greg Chappell, Pathan was at times drifted to the opening slot and there were times when he even came out to bat at number nine, which was way too late for him. However, there were even occasions where Pathan was touted to be India’s own Wasim Akram, given his prowess to swing the ball in both ways.
Mohammad Amir was one of Pakistan’s leading pacer in the making. After his career that spanned for a good deal of 11 years, he pulled the plug on it, citing mental torture from the fans. An extremely gifted pacer who blew England away with his excellent fast bowling underwent several charges that included the likes of a criminal conviction for match-fixing and infringements of the punishment imposed upon him. In 2020, he announced that he will no longer be available for international selection after he underwent hell at the hands of the fans that once were left exhilarated by his sublime bowling.
Known for mankading Jos Butler in 2014 and being a regular wicket-taker, Senanayake established himself as an instrumental ODI bowler for Sri Lanka. Despite not being able to withstand himself in the longer version of the game, his figures of 53 wickets from 49 games with a career-best of 4 for 19 were more than enough to pop a few eye-balls. He called it a day in 2020, despite being out of the game for almost 4 years.
Mainly known for his notable stint with Lancashire, Graham Onions also made a few ripples in the colours of England. In the nine Tests that he went on to play for England, he managed to scalp 32 wickets at a decent bowling average of 29.90. He managed to register 723 first-class wickets with 31-fivers throughout his career. Bowing out, Onions cited, “This is not the way I wanted to bow out of the game, but I have to listen to the medical staff and have come to terms with the fact I am protecting my health and wellbeing in future years. I gave absolutely everything I could and finish with no regrets. From being part of an Ashes-winning England team to becoming Durham’s leading First-Class wicket-taker, I have achieved more than I could have dreamed of when I first started out and feel lucky to have had the privilege of being a First-Class cricketer for so many years.”
Pragyan Ojha was deemed as a mysterious prodigy in the Indian colours, once upon a time. Unfortunately, he failed to sustain himself and in the longer run, as soon as his mystery was cracked, he started receiving relentless hammering at the hands of the batsmen. Also, that coincided with the rise of Ashwin and Jadeja and the duo started penning an incredible chapter together that unofficially put Ojha’s career to bed in 2020.