Shoaib Malik is the only active cricketer from the 90s to be playing international cricket in the 21st century. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Shoaib Malik has been representing Pakistan ever since 1999, making him the only cricketer from the 90s to be playing in the modern era. Shoaib Malik has played 287 ODIs and 35 Tests in his 21-year career as well as being one of the few cricketers to play over 100 Twenty20 Internationals. In ODIs, he has 7534 runs at an average of 35 with 158 wickets while in Tests, he has 1898 runs and 2321 runs in Twenty20 Internationals. In the last couple of years, Shoaib Malik has been struggling for form with both the bat and ball in ODIs, averaging just under 30 in 2018 and 2019. With Malik nearing 40, there have been calls for him to retire.
Recently, former Pakistan batsman and current commentator Ramiz Raja told Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, who started playing for Pakistan in 2003, to retire gracefully in an interview. While Hafeez has not spoken about the issue, Shoaib Malik has taken offence. In an interview with PTI, Ramiz said, "I come across both during my assignments that is why I avoid making personal comments. There is no doubt both have served Pakistan cricket well all these years but now they should retire from the Pakistan team."
To this, Malik tweeted by saying, "Yes, @iramizraja bhai agreed. Since all 3 of us are the end of our careers let’s retire gracefully together - I’ll call and let’s plan this for 2022? Smiling face with open mouth and cold sweat @MHafeez22 #jokes". This did not go down well with Ramiz who tweeted, "1-retire gracefully .. from what ?.. speaking my mind on pak cricket? Sticking my neck out for pak cricket ? Wanting pak cricket back at top ? No chance .. won’t be gracefully retiring from that ever Malik Sahib! as for ur post retirement plans. 2-would be tough to start commentating in 2022 as that would make you my age almost Winking face with tongue. And talking of careers, don’t need a tutorial from u of all the ppl as history, which is a great teacher, would tell u that I retired while I was Captain of Pak team."
@realshoaibmalik @MHafeez22 2-would be tough to start commentating in 2022 as that would make you my age almost ðAnd talking of careers , don’t need a tutorial from u of all the ppl as history, which is a great teacher, would tell u that I retired while I was Captain of Pak team— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) April 9, 2020
@realshoaibmalik @MHafeez22 1-retire gracefully .. from what ?.. speaking my mind on pak cricket? Sticking my neck out for pak cricket ? Wanting pak cricket back at top ? No chance .. won’t be gracefully retiring from that ever Malik Sahib! as for ur post retirement plans ..— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) April 9, 2020
Malik retired from Tests four years ago and also quit ODIs following Pakistan's poor 2019 ICC World Cup where they failed to make it to the knock-out stages. However, Malik has not made any comments on his future. Hafeez, on the other hand, has slated that he will retire from all international cricket after the end of the ICC World T20 that is scheduled to be held in October in Australia.
Shoaib Malik has been tight-lipped about his playing future while Mohammad Hafeez will retire after ICC World T20. (Image credit: Getty Images)
When Misbah-ul-Haq, the head coach and the chief selector of the Pakistan team included the two players in the World Cup squad after spending considerable time on the sidelines, the response was mixed. Former Pakistan Test pacer Aaqib Javed, however, felt that until Pakistan found suitable replacements for the two seniors it was useless talking about their retirements.
"Honestly speaking, I didn't see any batting talent in the recent Pakistan Super League. It is obvious that our middle order is brittle in white ball cricket and tell me few names who we can use to replace Hafeez and Malik now," Aaqib said on the GTV news channel. He pointed out that there is no choice but to continue with Hafeez and Malik until the World T20 Cup later this year in Australia. "You can advise senior players to retire but first need to have batsmen to replace them. The sort of innings Hafeez and Malik played in the PSL it is clear they are still our best choices," he said.