Top 10 cricketers who retired early

James Taylor and AB de Villiers are both part of the list of cricketers who retired early. They retired due to a heart condition and fatigue.

Cricket players who called it quits at a young age

Matthew Hayden once stated that “I was told cricketers know when the right time is to stop playing. When you are thinking about retiring, you’ve already retired.” To some extent this is perhaps true because only the individual can come to such a conclusion. It is not an easy decision to make, albeit it can be reversed in cases, such as by Imran Khan, who returned to help Pakistan win the 1992 Cricket World Cup. In this article, we will explore 10 cricketers who retired too early.

There are a number of reasons as to why these players have called it quits at an early age. This includes health conditions, fitness issues, political issues or skill issues.

So, who makes the top 10?

10. Munaf Patel

Munaf Patel, the Indian fast bowler is number 10 on our list of cricketers who retired early. He was not picked in international cricket post 2011. At this stage, he was just 28 years of age and coming off a successful Cricket World Cup. In his prime, he could move the ball both ways. Patel was most prominent in ODI cricket, picking up 86 wickets in 70 games.

9. Pragyan Ojha

Perhaps slightly unlucky to be discarded from the Indian Cricket Team at the age of just 27. Pragyan Ojha has a fabulous Test match record in terms of wickets taken and his economy rate. In just 24 games, he has taken 113 wickets at an economy rate of 2.68. His bowling average of 30 and the ascendancy of both Ashwin and Jadeja meant that he could not get a look in.

8. Michael Clarke

A poor run of form during the 2015 Ashes meant that Michael Clarke decided to call it quits. He averages nearly 50 in Test cricket and had a lot more to give to the Australian Cricket Team, had he continued playing. He had already captained his country to the Cricket World Cup title that year and a change in form may have been around the corner.

7. AB de Villiers

The cricketing fraternity was stunned when AB de Villiers retired in 2018 because he was still playing at the top of his game. His sensational batting had helped South Africa defeat both India and Australia at home in 2018 and the 34 year-old also had a great IPL season but decided to call it quits stating that “I am tired.”


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6. Andrew Flintoff

Perhaps the unluckiest cricketer on this list, Andrew Flintoff is number six on our list of cricketers who retired early. Flintoff decided to retire from the game in 2009, due to injuries. He won the Ashes series that year but is perhaps best-known for his performances four years earlier, where he helped England regain the urn for the first time in 18 years. Flintoff was a superb all-rounder for England in all formats of the game and has since gone on to play franchise T20 cricket and become a successful television presenter.

5. Aaqib Javed

Aaqib Javed retired early from all forms of cricket due to match fixing issues.
LAHORE, PAKISTAN – FEBRUARY 14: Aaqib Javed of Lahore Qalanders looks on before the T20 match between an MCC team and Lahore Qalandars at Gaddafi stadium on February 14, 2020 in Lahore, Pakistan. (Photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

Aaqib Javed represented Pakistan between 1988 and 1998. Having made his debut at the tender age of 16, the fast bowler retired 10 years late at the age of just 26. In that time, he played 22 Tests and 163 ODIs, picking up 54 and 182 wickets in those two formats respectively. Match-fixing in the 1990s effectively ended his career , despite not being proven guilty.


4. Henry Olonga

“Henry Olonga bowling, Mark Waugh is the backing up batsman, Cricket World Cup 1999, Zimbabwe v Australia at Lord’s (Super Six) 1996148(Photo by Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images)”

At the age of just 26, Henry Olonga played his last international game for Zimbabwe, putting him number four on our list of cricketers who retired early. He was the first black cricketer and also the youngest-ever cricketer to represent Zimbabwe at the time. Olonga is perhaps best known for his duel with Sachin Tendulkar during the 1998 tri-series. Olonga played 30 Tests and 50 ODIs, picking up 68 and 58 wickets in the two formats respectively.

3. Tatenda Taibu

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 09: Tatenda Taibu of Zimbabwe celebrates the wicket of Martin Guptill of New Zealand during game three of the One Day International series between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at McLean Park on February 9, 2012 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Still only 37 years of age, it is incredible to think that Tatenda Taibu retired almost a decade ago from international cricket. He was thought to be the natural successor for Andy Flower but his career, batting wise, never really got going. He averaged 30 in both formats, which was considered good for a wicket-keeper during his time but inadequate in comparison to Andy Flower.

Taibu represented Zimbabwe between 2001 and 2012. He made his international debut at the age of just 18 and retired at the age of just 28.


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2. Craig Kieswetter 

Craig Kieswetter had an eye injury in 2015 and hence is part of our list of cricketers who retired early.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JULY 09: Craig Keiswetter (L) of England hits the ball as Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka eyes the ball during the fifth Natwest One Day International between England and Sri Lanka at Old Trafford on July 9, 2011 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Craig Kieswetter was really unlucky to suffer a career-ending injury in county cricket in 2015, when facing a delivery from David Willey. The ball burst through his helmet and damaged the eye socket. Kieswetter was excellent at the 2010 World T20, helping England to win the tournament. He scored 222 runs at a batting average of just 32.

He made his international debut at the age of just 22 and had played his last game for England by the age of 25.

1. James Taylor

England’s James Taylor (L) and Jos Buttler (R) leave the pitch at the end of the third One Day International (ODI) match between Pakistan and England at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the Gulf Emirate of Sharjah on November 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN NAAMANI (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

James Taylor is number one on our list of cricketers who retired early. He was forced to retire from all forms of cricket in April 2016, after being diagnosed with a serious heart condition.  He was found to have ARVC, similar to what the footballer Fabrice Muamba had. Taylor had been in great form the year before in limited-overs cricket for England.

He had scored a century that year and averaged 42 in ODI cricket, at the time when he was forced to retire. He began his international career in 2011, at the age of 21. At 26, he had played his last game for England.

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