Wasim quits international matches on eve of tour

Wasim Akram of Pakistan announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday after 19 years as one of the world's leading all-rounders, during which the left-arm fast bowler became the only cricketer to take 500 one-day international wickets.

"There's an end to everything in life. I have enjoyed every bit of it," Wasim, 36, said during a break in playing for Hampshire against his former team Lancashire at Old Trafford. "There are no regrets. There have been ups and downs, but I would not have changed it for anything else."

Wasim confirmed he would not be in the Pakistan team for next month's one-day series in England. "They're a new young side and they must get ready for the next World Cup," he said. "My future is somewhere else after September, maybe in television or coaching."

Wasim, one of the best exponents of reverse swing, reached the 500-wicket mark during this year's World Cup in South Africa, his fifth appearance in the tournament. He was man of the match when Pakistan beat England in the 1992 final and captained the side that lost the 1999 final to Australia. He also took 414 wickets in 104 Test matches for Pakistan.

Wasim played the first of his record 356 one-day internationals in 1984 against New Zealand in Faisalabad and finished with 502 victims. A powerful middle-order batsman, he hit his best Test score of 257 not out against Zimbabwe in 1996-97. His highest one-day knock was 86.

But his career was sometimes attended by controversy, notably in 2000 when he was one of six players censured and fined for not co-operating fully with an investigation commissioned by the Pakistan Cricket Board in response to the match-fixing scandal.

However, most devotees of cricket will remember Wasim in his pomp in the early 1990s, long-haired, keen-eyed and quick-stepping up to the wicket before unleashing one of the fastest left arms the sport has known.

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