Friday, December 16, 2022
“Everything has its time. This is the right time, tomorrow will be my career’s last Test,” said Azhar in a press conference, adding that it was an honour for him to represent Pakistan.
The former captain said that there were many people who he was grateful to in the "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," said Azhar.
The batsman said that he was blessed to share dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom he shared 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," said the batsman.
The skipper said that he is retiring 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,” said Azhar.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja termed Azhar "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,” said Raja.
The 37-year-old made his debut in 2010 in England against Australia at Lord’s and scored his maiden Test half-century in only his second match.
He would score 34 more half-centuries and went past the 100-run mark on 19 instances.
Azhar, one of the most successful batters for the country, scored 7,097 runs in 96 matches at an average of 42.49.
He is Pakistan’s fifth leading Test run-getter behind Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf.
Among his accolades, Azhar is the only Pakistan batter to score a triple-century in a pink-ball Test. He had achieved the feat against the West Indies at Dubai in 2016. That unbeaten 302 remains his highest score in Test cricket.
Azhar captained Pakistan in nine Tests in two separate tenures from 2016 till 2020.
The batter had also ready retired from One-Day Internationals in 2018 – a year after helping Pakistan win the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.