Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan allrounder and former captain, has announced that the current Test match against England at Sharjah will be his last.
In a shock announcement at the close of the third day’s play today, an emotional Malik, 33, said that the “time was right” to move on, only three matches after his five-year exile from the Test team had come to an end.
His decision came out of blue as he arrived at the end-of-day press conference with a piece of paper in his hand. The team’s assistant manager informed the media that, before taking questions: “Shoaib want to say something”.
His team-mates were also caught unawares. Mohammad Hafeez, talking to the host broadcaster outside the team dressing-room, was shocked when asked to give his reaction and Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistan’s spin bowling coach, was also taken by surprise.
“I am taking retirement from Test cricket and this is my last Test,” Malik said in his statement. “I would like to thank my family, cricket board, my team-mates and my supporting staff as they have supported me all the way along. I think it’s the right time to quit this format and I want to focus on the upcoming 2019 World Cup.”
Malik made a dramatic return to the fray in the first Test at Abu Dhabi last month. Called in to the team as a late replacement for the injured Azhar Ali, he made a career-best 245 in his first appearance since the Edgbaston Test against England in 2010.
At the age of 33, and having earned his recall to the Test team on the strength of his recent one-day performances, Malik’s one remaining ambition is to earn selection for the 2019 World Cup in England.
His only previous experience of the tournament came way back in 2007, when he made one half-century in three appearances in Jamaica as Pakistan were eliminated at the group stages following defeats against Ireland and West Indies.
Malik’s first stint in the Pakistan team included 32 Tests between 2001 and 2010, in which time he may never have been a consistent selection but was nevertheless named as captain across all formats in 2007, including three Tests against South Africa and India in October and November that year.
However, he was sacked as captain in 2009 with Younis Khan taking over. He returned to domestic cricket and scored 799 runs at 88.77, including four hundreds, in six matches, making him the second-highest run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One season.
Malik has scored 1898 runs at 35.14, including three hundreds, in 35 Test appearances, to go with 29 wickets at 51.48 with his off-spin.