Zafar Ansari’s “other ambitions” and other tales of premature retirement from cricket

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Cricket - Friends Life Twenty20 Finals Day - second semi final - Hampshire v Surrey

Each to his own and all that, but the “new chapter” in Zafar Ansari’s life sounds dull as shit to us. He’s retired from cricket at the age of 25 to pursue another career, “potentially in law”.

We’ve been here before. We’ve been here several times. There was James Bruce, who retired at 28 in favour of a career ‘in the City’ and there was Alex Loudon shortly before him.

We wrote about these bizarre decisions for The Wisden Cricketer in 2007 and looking back on that piece, it seems Loudon left cricket in favour of “a corporate advisory firm”. We’ve still no concrete grasp on what that might mean, but we do know that the words alone make us feel hollow and slightly tearful about the fundamental meaninglessness of existence.

To try and gain some insight into WHY IN HELL a man might make such a decision, we spoke to Paul Downton (yes, that one) who carved out a successful career in finance after he retired from cricket (in his thirties) and was at the time working as a director at a firm called Cazenove.

We can’t find our notes from that interview, but we remember him telling us that it would be tough for these players to turn down the opportunity to embark on what would surely prove to be highly lucrative careers. He had to tell us this several times because each time he said it, we responded with some uncomprehending version of “but… they were cricketers?”

Perhaps we’re a bit of a simpleton, but our view has always been that you only get one crappy body and it’s slowly dying from the moment you’re born. Using that body to play sport – and play it well – during the relatively short window when that’s an option has always seemed to us to be one of the absolute finest uses of one’s time.

But as we said at the top, each to his own. Loudon saw things differently. He admitted to us that he’d miss cricket at times, but added: “Mostly I’ll have my head firmly in front of a computer screen and thinking of exciting things in my future career.”


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  1. In other news, Cricket Badger this week really is a cracking good read – I laughed out loud more than once…

    …which was a bit embarsssing here in a bustling St John’s Wood cafe. Thank you for nothing, KC.

    In other, other news,this weekend I shall be Ogblogging some monumental news about one of my friends/characters from KC match reports passim.

    Watch this space.

    1. In a remarkable turnup, is Charlie ‘the Gent’ Malloy quitting his career ‘in the city’ to become a freelance cricketer extraordinaire, a la Laurence Elderbrook? Have you been assisting in the naked gambolling, Ged?

  2. It’s not going to be as exciting, that’s for sure. What it might offer that cricketing can’t is stability. Stability of income, stability of skills that’ll last you beyond your 30s/early 40s, stability of day-to-day performance (most days in the office, your performance difference won’t come near the century/duck disparity).

    Being a cricketer, especially one on the fringes of success, can be nerve-wracking. A high-powered financial job will probably seem calm and easy in comparison.

  3. Is he, and did those who did it previously, giving up all forms of the game? I can understand someone saying they’d rather earn more money, drink what they like, disdain steamed chicken diets, spend every Christmas at home with their loved ones, and still be ‘a cricketer’, just at a much lower level where they routinely kick arse despite drinking what they like etc.

  4. My dad was offered a contract by Bolton Wanderers in 1952, which he turned down because he had a job as an apprentice draughtsman. The football would have paid him double his draughtsman’s salary, but for roughly a third of the time, and an injury would have stopped it dead. He never regretted his choice, at least as far as I know.

    On the other hand, the student RL team I played for had Peter Fox, erstwhile Bradford Northern and Great Britain coach, as a guest of honour at the club dinner. He looked at the assembled future accountants, pharmacists, engineers and lawyers and said that if Batley came along with an offer of a place in their second team, we should take it, because (and I’ve never forgotten these words) if we didn’t we would never know how good we could have been.

    There’s no opinion in all that, just two contradictory stories and a dollop of nostalgia.

  5. I’d rather be dead than in business or finance, but then I don’t play cricket either.

  6. I would almost certainly pick a job that will pay me well over the next twenty years over one where my future is uncertain. It is easy to point to T20 and the lure of big money, but this is based on the faulty assumption that somehow your path to IPL/EPL/somePL is guaranteed and millions await.

  7. Lots of talk of ‘the future’ and ‘stability’ here.

    The lad’s nobbut a bairn. He’s only 25. He’s bags of time to think about his future in the future.

    1. Yeah right, yer maj, that’s what they told me. I think that’s what they tell everyone.

      And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, then WAIT, then NO!! then sorry…

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