Why did Pakistan’s Ayesha Naseem announce retirement at just age 18?

The cricketing world is abuzz with the news of Ayesha Naseem, the 18-year-old Pakistan senior women’s team player, bidding farewell to the game. While a recent development on the story has confirmed the news of her retirement from the game, unexpectedly, the improbable religious reason behind her exit has reportedly been confirmed as accurate.

Ayesha Naseem. PC: Getty Images
Ayesha Naseem. PC: Getty Images

Ayesha Naseem’s retirement garnered significant attention, especially because her decision stemmed from a profound desire to lead her life in alignment with the teachings of Islam. Reportedly, Ayesha communicated to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and we quote as sourced from Free Press Journal, “I’m leaving cricket and want to live my life according to Islam.”

Ayesha Naseem communicated her intentions to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) while grappling with an injury, revealing her firm decision to bid adieu to the cricketing realm.

As per a PTI report, a source stated, “She was contacted for a training camp and assignment but she told the board she no longer wanted to play cricket…wanted to be a practicing Muslim and live her life as per Islamic teachings.”

The PCB, unwilling to let go of the promising talent, made sincere efforts to sway her decision. However, their attempts to persuade her to reconsider her retirement, fell flat as Ayesha remained committed to her choice. The PCB to alter her course, sought the intervention of recently appointed skipper and senior player from the Pakistan Women’s cricket team, Nida Dar to converse with Ayesha Naseem. However, even this effort proved to be in vain as she held her ground to pursue a different path.

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“Efforts were made even by Nida Dar and some Pakistan players to convince her that she can be a practicing Muslim and also play cricket at the same time but Ayesha refused to rethink her decision,” the source informed PTI. The PCB is yet to officially provide an update on Ayesha’s reported retirement call, suggesting that they are awaiting her response on her central contract.

Additionally, a source familiar with the situation stated that Ayesha Naseem hails from a conservative family and initially faced considerable challenges in obtaining permission to play cricket. Despite securing approval, her participation in tours with the Pakistan team posed difficulties back home. Ayesha has left a mark in her 31 international appearances for Pakistan, particularly in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). Within this format, she has flourished, amassing an impressive record of 369 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 128.12.

Her proficiency was evident early in her career when she displayed promise with fine innings of 45* off just 33 balls against West Indies. She further enhanced her best performance by scoring 45 runs off 31 balls against Sri Lanka, leaving a lasting impression. A memorable and exhilarating recent outing for Ayesha for Pakistan was during the World Cup match against India, where Ayesha exhibited her remarkable talent by smashing a blistering 43* off a mere 25 balls.

If Ayesha Naseem decides not to stay in cricket or reconsider her retirement, Pakistan will undoubtedly experience a significant loss, losing such a promising player at such an early stage in her career. Her impressive record in T20Is and impressive performances against strong opponents demonstrated her invaluable contribution to the team’s batting lineup and will leave a notable void.

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(Quotes sourced from PTI report. Female Cricket could not independently verify the report)

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