Photo Credit: ICC
Legendary fast bowler Shabnim Ismail has today announced her retirement from all forms of international cricket for the Proteas Women with immediate effect in order to focus on her family and playing T20 domestic cricket around the world.
The 34-year-old calls it a day after appearing in 241 international ODI, T20I and Test matches for South Africa, taking 317 wickets, as she established herself as one of the best fast bowlers in women’s cricket.
Ismail’s last appearance in the green and gold was in South Africa’s historic ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final against the eventual champions, Australia, on home soil in February this year.
Her retirement statement is as follows:
“Dear cricket family,
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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,” Ismail concluded.
Ismail, who turns 35 in October, was born and raised in Cravenby, Cape Town in the Western Cape and after impressing in her first season and a half for her hometown team, the Six Gun Grill Western Province, she was brought into the national set up at the start of 2007.
The right-arm fast bowler made her international bow in the One-Day International clash against Pakistan on 20 January 2007 in Pretoria, with Ismail going on to become an elite bowler with 191 wickets in 127 matches with a notable economy rate of 3.70 and best figures of six for 10 against Netherlands in 2011.
Ismail ends her ODI career as the second highest wicket-taker, only bettered by India’s Jhulan Goswami (255 wickets). Ismail 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.
Ismail also finishes her 50-over career with the most wickets taken at a single ground in women’s ODI cricket, with 24 wickets in 17 matches at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom.
In T20 international cricket, the right-armer collected 113 caps for South Africa, taking 123 wickets (fourth on all-time list) at a strike rate of 19.30 with career-best figures of five for 12 against Pakistan in 2021.
Amongst other achievements, Ismail has also taken the most T20I wickets where the batter was bowled, with 42 deliveries dismantling the stumps.
During a 16-year career representing her country, Ismail has featured in four 50-over World Cups between 2009-2022 as well as in all eight Women’s T20 World Cups, beginning with the 2009 edition before culminating in the momentous 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup held in South Africa.
Ismail helped South Africa to two semi-final finishes (2017, 2022) in the 50-over tournament, 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 Cup in 2020 and 2023.
In her one and only Test cap for South Africa in 2007, Ismail picked up three wickets against Netherlands, including a career-best return of two for five.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) Director of Cricket, Enoch Nkwe commented:
“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.
“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.
CSA Chief Executive, Pholetsi Moseki said:
“Today we bid farewell to a true icon of not only women’s cricket but the game in general during an international career that spanned more than 16 years as she led the line with ball in hand and rose to become one of South Africa’s most lethal bowlers, taking the most wickets in ODI and T20I cricket for her nation.
“Ismail will go down as a cricketing great and on behalf of CSA and all South Africans, I want to thank her for all her outstanding years of service to the sport and wish her the very best for the rest of her career and future endeavours,” Moseki concluded.