Pakistan batter Azhar Ali has announced that he will retire from Test cricket after the third fixture against England in Karachi, starting December 17. Azhar bows out as Pakistan’s fifth highest run-getter in the format, behind Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam Ul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf. Heading into his final fixture, he has 7097 runs in 96 games at an average of 42.49.
“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level. Deciding on when to call it a day is always tough, but, after contemplating deeply, I realised that this is the right time for me to retire from Test cricket,” Azhar said.
“I have been blessed to share the dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom I share a strong bond. I feel much richer by calling these people my friends. I am also blessed to have played under some wonderful coaches to whom I will always remain grateful,” he added.
The 37-year-old made his Test debut back in 2010 in a game against Australia at Lord’s. The runs began to flow from just his second outing where he scored his first half-century. He went on to score 34 more fifties and 19 tons in the format. His highest Test score of 302 made him the only Pakistan batter to hit a triple-ton in a pink-ball Test, in 2016. Azhar also has two double centuries – in Dhaka against Bangladesh (May 2015) and in Adelaide against Australia (December 2016). In 2014, Azhar scored two centuries in a Test against Australia in a massive victory in Abu Dhabi. He now leaves having scored at least one century in Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UAE, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
“I retire from international cricket as a fulfilled cricketer who ticked most of the goals he had set for himself. Not many cricketers go on to lead their countries, and that I was able to captain Pakistan is a matter of great pride for me. From being a kid who started as a leg-spinner to becoming a mainstay in the Test batting line-up, I had the loveliest moments of my life that I will cherish forever,” Azhar said.
Azhar Ali also captained Pakistan in nine Tests across two separate stints between 2016 and 2020.
“Azhar Ali has been one of the most committed and loyal servants of Pakistan cricket. His grit and determination have been an inspiration for many young cricketers and he is a role model for up and coming cricketers,” PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said.
“While it is sad that Pakistan will not have a player of his experience in the dressing room to draw upon, it only reflects the circle of life. I hope to see Azhar continuing to play a role in the development of Pakistan cricket and sharing his vast knowledge and experience with budding cricketers,” Raja added.