Teammates and opponents give a guard of honour to Pakistani cricketer Umar Gul (C) during the National T20 Cup in Rawalpindi. AFP/Aamir Qureshi
RAWALPINDI - Pakistan bowler Umar Gul, who earned the nickname 'Gul-dozer' for his rattling of stumps, has called time on his 17-year cricket career.
With no crowds to bid farewell to the national hero because of coronavirus restrictions, the Twenty20 World Cup winner bowed out to a guard of honour from teammates and opponents after his final match -- a disappointing defeat -- in Rawalpindi on Friday.
"I want to be remembered as someone who tried his best for the country and it's flattering that I was called 'Gul-dozer' during this memorable journey in cricket," the 36-year-old told AFP.
It was a topsy-turvy journey for Gul, whose affair with cricket began on the crowded streets of Peshawar.
He entered the international arena exactly a month after the legendary pace duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis retired following Pakistan's disastrous 2003 World Cup.
It was like the baton of swing bowling had been passed from one generation to another, Gul recalled.
"It was tough to fill those shoes but I tried my best and it was great to lead Pakistan to the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 and then to the title two years later," he said.
He finished with 163 Test and 179 ODI wickets, but he achieved his greatest success in Twenty20 cricket, the start of his career coinciding with the launch of the shortest format in 2003.
Gul was at his destructive best in England in 2009, finishing as the top wicket taker of the Twenty20 World Cup with 13. That included a mesmerising five wickets for just six runs in the semi-final win over New Zealand.
"Winning the World Cup was the highest point of my career," he said. "I remember those were very tough days and there was unrest in our country so our win brought smiles back on the faces."