Top 5 International cricketers who retired at their peak

Over the years in the rich history of cricket, we have witnessed the retirement of many legends who gave it all to the game. Today we look at the top 5 international cricketers who retired when they were enjoying their peak.

Varun Sarwate
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Brendon McCullum-Michael Clarke (source: X)

Brendon McCullum-Michael Clarke (source: X)

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In sports, making a debut is not in the hands of a player but when one should retire depends on the professional. As they say in sports, “Champions don’t retire with a bang, they do with a whimper”. It is always said in sports that a champion athlete should always retire when people ask ‘why’ and not ‘why not’. 

Over the years in the rich history of cricket, we have witnessed the retirement of many legends who gave it all to the game but only a few retired when they were at the peak of their game.

Here are the top 5 international cricketers who retired when they were enjoying their peak: 

1. Brendon McCullum - New Zealand

Brendon McCullum

Brendon McCullum is among the greatest players that New Zealand has ever produced. The explosive Kiwi batter retired at the age of 35 just a year after an astonishing 2015 ODI World Cup campaign where he led the New Zealand team to the final with his inspirational captaincy.  

The 35-year-old was one of the fittest cricketers of his time and was going well and strong when at the time retired. To everyone’s amazement, McCullum went on to hit the fastest Test century in his final test against the strong Australian team. After retiring from international cricket McCullum played in various T20 franchise leagues such as the IPL, and G20 Canada. Currently, he is serving as the head coach of the England Test side where he is making waves with his ‘Bazball’ approach.

2. Kumar Sangakkara - Sri Lanka 

Kumar Sangakkara

The next name on our list is someone whose exit from international cricket had a major impact on his country and it is none other than Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara. The classy southpaw retired at the age of 38 after a home test series against India in 2015. His retirement came in line with other prominent Sri Lankan greats which depleted the Sri Lanka cricket from which they have still not been able to recover. 

Sangakkara was in great form when he retired from cricket as he just had a sensational 2015 ODI World Cup where he scored 541 runs at a scary average of 108.2. Post his retirement, the Sri Lankan star went on to play county cricket for Surrey and subsequently retired from all forms of competitive cricket in 2017. He is currently the director of cricket at the Rajasthan Royals franchise in the IPL. 

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3. Michael Clarke - Australia

Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke is the third person on our list who bid adieu to international cricket at the peak of his cricketing prowess. The Ex-Australian captain was just 34 years old when he retired and had just won the home 2015 ODI World Cup for Australia after which he announced retirement from the ODIs. 

Michael Clarke led Australia to lose the Ashes Test series just months after the ODI World Cup triumph and his form saw a slump in the series which put pressure on the Australian selectors. Additionally, Clarke was also marred with back issues which added to his vows in international cricket and led to his retirement. Michael Clarke was one of the finest batters ever produced by Australia and played some memorable innings in his 13-year-old international career. 

4. Kevin Pieterson - England 

Kevin Pieterson

Kevin Pieterson has been an enigma of English cricket. Despite being a star performer for England in all the formats, Pieterson was forced to retire early from international cricket due to his fallout with the coach and captain Andrew Strauss. Kevin Pieterson played a significant role in England's key triumphs such as the 2005 Ashes, 2010 T20 World Cup victory, and 2012 India series.

He was even the highest run-getter for England in their humiliating loss of 5-0 to Australia in the Ashes where wreaked havoc on English batters with short-ball deliveries. Pieterson scored more than 8,000 runs in Tests for England at an impressive average of 47, yet he had to retire early due to his off-field issues with the English board and management.

5. AB de Villiers - South Africa 

AB de Villiers

South African legend AB de Villiers is the last name in our list whose retirement from international cricket in 2018 shocked the entire cricketing fraternity. He was just 34 years old and was at the top of his fitness and form as he scored more than 835 runs with an average of 52 in ODIs when he decided to quit international cricket.

AB de Villiers at that time cited lack of motivation as the primary reason to bid adieu to international cricket but it was later revealed that the environment in the South African setup and policy of the South African cricket board pushed him to take the call. However, there were reports of him making a comeback from retirement to join the South African team for the 2019 ODI World Cup but the plan could not fructify.