Johannesburg, May 3 (IANS) South Africa fast bowler Shabnim Ismail, considered as one of the quickest bowlers in the women’s cricket circuit, on Wednesday announced her retirement from all forms of international cricket with immediate effect.
In an official statement, Shabnim said she is retiring from international cricket in order to focus on her family and playing T20 domestic cricket around the world.
The 34-year old Shabnim retires after appearing in 241 matches for South Africa across all formats, taking 317 wickets.
Her last international appearance came in South Africa’s historic ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final appearance against the eventual champions, Australia, on home soil in February this year.
“After 16 years proudly representing my country, I have come to the difficult decision to retire from international cricket and move on to the next chapter of my life. As any athlete knows, training and competing at your best requires much sacrifice and dedication, and I now find myself wanting to spend more time with my family, particularly my siblings and parents as they get older,” said Shabnim in her statement.
“They have always been my biggest support and I want to be able to be there for them in the way they have been there for me over the past 16 years. I really believe that reducing the amount of cricket I play will enable me to do this, and playing in global leagues is the only way I see to be able to fit in both family and cricket.
As I look back on my international career, I am so grateful for all the opportunities and experiences I have had. I have loved being able to compete at the highest level and I am so proud of being able to be part of a wonderful group of players who have led the way for women in cricket. The memories I have will stay with me forever,” she added.
Shabnim made her international cricket debut in an ODI against Pakistan on January 20, 2007 in Pretoria. In 127 ODIs, she picked 191 wickets in 127 matches at an economy rate of 3.70 and best figures of 6/10 against Netherlands in 2011.
She ends her ODI career as the second highest wicket-taker, only bettered by India’s legendary pacer Jhulan Goswami, who picked 255 wickets. Shabnim also finishes her ODI career with the most wickets taken at a single ground in women’s cricket, through 24 wickets in 17 matches at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom.
Shabnim also grabbed the joint-most Women’s ODI wickets taken in a single calendar year, with 37 scalps in 2022, including 14 at the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.
“I want to thank Cricket South Africa, my teammates, coaches, and medical support staff for all their input and support over the years. What a journey it has been, and one that would not have been as meaningful if you had not been a part of it. To my fans – thank you for your unwavering support and encouragement. Your messages and cheers have lifted me up and kept me going when times were tough. I truly appreciate every one of you,” the pacer further said.
“As I step into this new stage of life, I am excited to explore new opportunities and spend more time with those I love. However, cricket will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will continue to be a proud ambassador for the sport in South Africa.
I look forward to continuing to perform at the highest level over the next few years across various T20 competitions across the globe. Thank you for everything,” she concluded.
In T20Is, Shabnim picked 123 wickets (fourth on all-time list) in 113 matches at a strike rate of 19.30 with career-best figures of 5/12 against Pakistan in 2021. She has also taken the most T20I wickets where the batter was bowled, with 42 deliveries dismantling the stumps.
In her one and only Test cap for South Africa in 2007, Shabnim picked up three wickets against Netherlands, including a career-best return of two for five.
“This is a poignant but celebratory moment for South African cricket and the global game as a whole, as we celebrate and honour an incredible cricketer in Shabnim Ismail.
Shabnim has transcended women’s cricket as a fierce competitor with the ability of making any batter uncomfortable at the crease with her rapid pace that regularly surpassed 120kph throughout her career,” said Enoch Nkwe, Director of Cricket, Cricket South Africa (CSA).
“She will be sorely missed by the team and all South African cricket fans as she continues to inspire the next generation of cricketers during her remaining domestic career in all parts of the globe,” he added.
During a 16-year international career, Shabnim featured in four ODI World Cups between 2009-2022 as well as in all eight T20 World Cups, beginning with the 2009 edition before culminating in the momentous 2023 edition held in South Africa.
Shabnim helped South Africa to two semi-final finishes (2017, 2022) in the ODI World Cups, with the 34-year-old also playing a leading role in guiding her nation to a semi-final and a final appearance in the T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2023.