Other victims

A number of players have recently retired from Test cricket in order to prolong their careers in the shorter formats of the game, Brett Lee being the latest. Nearly all of them are all-rounders or fast bowlers with a history of injury problems.

Scott Styris: The stocky New Zealand all-rounder, who made his Test debut in 2002, played 29 Tests before retiring in early 2008, citing the demands placed on him by “the rigours of international cricket.” Injuries, including a lower-back ailment, had plagued him constantly. “I have found the niggles and injuries, associated with the longer form of the game, were making it difficult for me to get on to the park,” he said while making his announcement.

Shaun Tait: A month short of his 25th birthday, Tait announced an indefinite break from all forms of the game in January 2008, due to mental and physical exhaustion. “A break from professional cricket will hopefully give me a clear mind and a chance for my body to rest and recover,” he said. A long-term elbow problem was one of Tait’s primary worries. The South Australian slinger returned to cricket eight months later during Australia ‘A’s limited-overs tour to India, and has since come back to international Twenty20 and ODI action, but has given up four- and five-day cricket for the time being.

Andrew Flintoff: Ahead of the 2009 Ashes series, the burly Lancastrian announced that the five Tests against Australia would be the final chapter of his Test career. He had missed 25 of England’s previous 48 Tests thanks to a series of injuries. “I’ve had four ankle operations and knee surgery, so my body is telling me things, and I’m actually starting to listen. I can’t just play games here and there while waiting to be fit,” he said. “For my own sanity, and for my family’s, I’ve got to draw a line under it. I’ve been going through two years of rehab in the past four, which is not ideal.”

Like Lee, Flintoff’s limited-overs future also remains in doubt. “The next time I get injured, I will be gone,” he said, while recuperating from knee surgery in Dubai. The all-rounder hasn’t played a game in any format since the final Ashes Test at the Oval in 2009.

Jacob Oram: Built like Flintoff, and equally ravaged by injury, the New Zealand all-rounder quit Test cricket last October. Oram, who played only 33 Tests in a seven-year career, said that he had to choose between giving up Tests and giving up bowling. His choice was made easier by the paucity of Tests in New Zealand’s schedule. “The decision to choose limited-overs cricket over Test cricket has a lot to do with playing opportunities. The Black Caps play a lot more limited-overs cricket than Tests, and there’s also the opportunity to continue playing in world events such as the World Cup, World T20 and Champions Trophy, as well as the IPL,” he said.

Shane Bond: The latter-day Ray Lindwall managed only 18 Tests in eight years. It remains one of cricket’s biggest what-ifs — what if Shane Bond had never been injured? Coming back to Test cricket after two years, Bond destroyed Pakistan with match figures of eight for 153 in the first Test in Dunedin last November. That proved to be his final Test match, with an abdominal strain forcing him out of the next two, and forcing him to think about his future. “The hardest thing is that I’ve always considered myself a Test bowler — and it was such a great feeling to be back in the team and playing Test match cricket with the Blackcaps,” he said. “Unfortunately my body just won’t let me continue to play at that level, given the workload and demands of Test cricket.”