Cricket is indeed a game of great uncertainties. Over the years, there have been many incidents, both on and off the cricket field, that have brought the curtains down on the careers of some highly-talented players.
Five cricket players whose careers ended prematurely:
Many fine cricket players have seen their careers end prematurely for a bevvy of reasons when they were still in their primes. On that note, let us have a look at five such cricket players, who could have gone on to achieve more laurels in the sport.
#1 Tatenda Taibu
In an uncertain period for Zimbabwe cricket, the precocious talent of Tatenda Taibu seemed to be their big hope for stability. After breaking into the team in the early 2000s, he assumed captaincy at the tender age of 20 to become the then-youngest Test captain in history.
Taibu played for Zimbabwe till 2012, representing his nation in 28 Tests, 150 ODIs and 17 T20Is. However, at the age of 29, he announced that he was moving away from the sport to devote himself to the church. In 2013, he issued a statement in this regard that read:
"I was not happy. My heart was looking for peace, and I was trying to find it in this unreal world. That’s the time I started reading the Bible, and all my doubts began clearing. I just feel that my true calling now lies in doing the Lord's work, and although I am fortunate and proud to have played for my country, the time has come for me to put my entire focus on that part of my life."
#2 Mohammad Asif
Mohammad Asif was considered as the next big thing in international cricket, and quite rightfully so. He was blessed with everything that a fast bowler could dream of: a smooth bowling action and an ability to make the ball swing - both in the air as well as off the seam.
Unfortunately, Mohammad Asif's international career came to an abrupt end when the then-28-year-old was caught in the infamous spot-fixing scandal alongside Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt during the 2010 Lord's Test against England.
#3 Mark Boucher
The legendary South African wicketkeeper-batsman Mark Boucher retired from the game after a freak eye injury.
During a match against Somerset, when Boucher was keeping wickets, Imran Tahir's googly hit the stump, and a flying bail hit Boucher in the eye. Writhing in pain, he was immediately taken to the hospital, where it was diagnosed that he had a lacerated eyeball. After a painful 3-hour-long surgery, Boucher announced his retirement from cricket.
Notably, Boucher holds the record for the most Test dismissals by a wicketkeeper - 555 (532 catches and 23 stumpings).
#4 Craig Kieswetter
With 222 runs in seven games at an average of 31.71 that included a match-winning 49-ball 63 against Australia, Craig Kieswetter played a stellar role in England's triumph at the 2010 ICC T20 World Cup.
Kieswetter's career, however, ended on a brutal note a few seasons later when he coped a blow on his eye, for which he required surgery, while batting in a county game.
He tried to make a return to competitive cricket by featuring in a domestic T20 tournament in South Africa. But that was not to be, and the right-hander was forced to call it a day in June 2015 at the age of just 27.
#5 Phil Hughes
Perhaps the most tragic ending of them all was that of Philip Hughes, a talented young Australian opener. He succumbed after taking a sickening blow to his head off a Sean Abbott bouncer during a 2014 Sheffield Shield game.
Hughes, who represented Australia in 26 Tests, 25 ODIs and one T20I, was taken to hospital after collapsing face-first. He underwent emergency surgery before he was placed in an induced coma.
The player, however, failed to regain consciousness and unfortunately passed away on November 27, 2014 at the tender age of just 25.