With his body ravaged by injuries, Zaheer Khan, one of India’s greatest fast bowlers, announced his retirement from international cricket on Thursday, admitting he could no longer handle the rigours of the game.
“As I was training for the upcoming season, it dawned on me that my shoulder may not last the rigours of bowling nearly 18 overs a day, and that’s when I knew it was time,” Khan said in an elaborate statement.
“With immediate effect I bid adieu to my career in international cricket. I look forward to signing off my last season in domestic cricket at the conclusion of the Indian Premier League season 9,” he said.
“The toughest call in a cricketing career is when one has to walk away from the game itself. You almost will yourself and want to push that few, extra miles but then the body, after nearly two decades, decides not to respond,” Zaheer said in the statement.
The 37-year-old left-arm pacer, who has played 92 Test matches, 200 ODIs and 17 T20 Internationals has been in and out of the team in the last three to four years due to recurrent injuries which a took a toll on his body. Khan, who plays for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, will end his domestic career next year with the event’s ninth edition.
In 92 Test matches, Zaheer has taken 311 wickets and is the fourth-highest wicket-taker amongst Indians in the longer version, after Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434) and Harbhajan Singh (417). He picked 282 wickets in 200 ODIs he played, besides 17 scalps from as many Twenty20s.
Khan played a major role in India’s 2011 World Cup triumph with 21 wickets in the tournament and said being part of the 2011 ICC World Cup-winning team was the most cherished moment of his career.
“My greatest cricketing moment was lifting the World Cup as part of Team India and creating history. We played as a top team and being part of the journey of India as a top ODI side was very fulfilling,” he said.
Several current and former cricketers -- including Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, and Suresh Raina -- as well as the BCCI and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur took to Twitter to pay tribute to the left-arm bowler.
Wonderful to have played with you Zak @ImZaheer great bowler great skill! Best wishes for the future.— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) October 15, 2015
One of the coolest pace bowlers I know. He was a bowler who could 'out think' the batsman most of the times. Always up for a challenge (1/2)— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) October 15, 2015
I am sure he will do well as he begins a new chapter in his life. Wishing @ImZaheer all success in his retired life (2/2)— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) October 15, 2015
Well done ZAK on a fantastic career.without U it wd hve been very difficult to achieve what the ICT did.most clever fast bowler I know— Mahendra Singh Dhoni (@msdhoni) October 15, 2015
My go-to man. Perfect gentleman. Big Brother. And a legend in his own right. Good luck for your new innings @ImZaheer Wonderful to know u— Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) October 15, 2015
The affable bowler said he would try and give back to the game although he hasn’t decided how yet.
“ ‘Zak is back’ is perhaps a headline that may come my way again, as I have every intention of giving back to this game and our wonderful country which gave this kid from Shrirampur the opportunity to chase and live his dream!,” he said.