Chris Tremlett: Surrey and England all-rounder Zafar Ansari was always likely to retire early: he's destined for success

 
Chris Tremlett
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Surrey CCC Photocall
Ansari claimed 128 wickets in 71 first-class matches (Source: Getty)

Having spoken with him in the past, I always knew that when my former Surrey team-mate Zafar Ansari stopped enjoying the game and felt it was the right time to retire then he would walk away.

I’m a little surprised by the timing of the decision, especially with him making his Test debut for England against Bangladesh in October, and I didn’t expect him to call it a day aged 25. I’m not shocked, however, that he’s decided to go early.

Cricket is a love of his but Zafar has always had aspirations to do great things in other parts of his life and he’s clearly decided that pursuing a possible career in law is the way forward. Whatever he goes on to do, he isn’t going to struggle.

Unlike some of the other Surrey lads, Zafar is pretty introverted. He’s a very intelligent person – one of the most intelligent I’ve ever met -- and a double first from Cambridge University and Master’s degree from Royal Holloway backs that up.

Huge potential

Rather than playing dressing room pranks, he would be sat in the corner reading one of his books or studying, all with the intention of bettering himself for later life. He was always looking improve.

Zafar is a hugely talented all-rounder, who claimed 128 wickets in 71 first-class matches with his left-arm spin and provided balance in any one-day side given his batting ability.

There might be people who have invested a lot of time in him over the years who are annoyed that he’s retired early and not fulfilled his huge potential. But when you’ve fallen out of love with the game, which I believe he has, you have to move on.

I can relate to that. I was a lot older when I retired but once that enjoyment has gone, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, it’s difficult to carry on.

Perhaps there will be times in the future when he looks back and has a few regrets - you’re a long time retired, after all, and Zafar could have gone on for another decade.

Snap decision

But I think he will have thought long and hard about this move; it certainly won’t have been a snap decision. I recall years ago him saying that he’d be prepared to step away from the game and do other things. He has the talent and the options to do so, good luck to him.

England, meanwhile, named their 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy this week and there weren’t any contentious decisions. The selectors have been consistent and gone with the players who have performed for a while now.

There was talk of youngsters such as Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone and Tom Curran of Surrey perhaps making the cut, or Hampshire’s Mason Crane as an extra spin option, but there was no wildcard.

It’s great to see Durham paceman Mark Wood included. With the tournament being staged during the earlier part of the summer, in June, the wickets probably won’t be as dry as they would be towards the back end so it makes sense to go with an extra seamer.

X-factor bowler

Wood provides X-factor with the ball in hand and I really enjoy watching him bowl. He can provide England with the option of quick spells, more than 90mph, during the middle overs.

While Australia will be the team to beat, it’s a squad which I believe can potentially take England all the way and end their wait for international 50-over silverware. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had an England-Australia final on 18 June at the Kia Oval.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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