by TN Media News:
The former Pakistan captain is his country’s fifth-highest run-scorer in Tests and will bow out – whether or not he plays at Karachi – from the game’s longest format. Pakistan batter Azhar Ali will retire from Test cricket following the conclusion of the series against England. Azhar was left out at Multan after struggling and being struck on the thumb at Rawalpindi, and Babar Azam has not yet confirmed his line-up for the final match of the series, which begins on Saturday.
If the 37-year-old doesn’t feature at Karachi, he will finish four Tests short of the landmark of 100 appearances in the game’s longest format. He sits fifth on Pakistan’s all-time Test run-scoring list. “It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level,” he said. “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.
“There are many people who I am grateful to in this strenuous, yet beautiful journey. I want to make a special mention of my family without whose sacrifices; I would not have been where I am today. My parents, wife, siblings, and children have been my strength throughout.”
Only Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf have scored more Test runs for Pakistan. Since his Test debut in 2010 against England, just six players – Joe Root, Steve Smith, Alastair Cook, Virat Kohli, David Warner and Kane Williamson – have been more prolific run-scorers than Azhar, who has hit 7,097 runs at an average of 42.49.
He is responsible for one of 31 innings in Test history above 300, the only Test triple century by a Pakistani batter – an unbeaten 302 against West Indies in 2016, one of his 19 Test hundreds alongside 34 fifties. He captained Pakistan in nine Tests in two separate tenures between 2016 and 2020. He added: “I have been blessed to share a 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.
“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.”
PCB chairman Ramiz Raja praised Azhar, calling him “one of the most committed and loyal servants of Pakistan cricket”. “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.”
Azhar has a contract to continue playing for Worcestershire as an overseas player in 2023.