January 23, 2002

Reiffel ends first-class career

Paul Reiffel's distinguished first-class career has come to an end today with the news that the Victorian captain has decided to retire with immediate effect.

Reiffel, the state's first-class leader for close to three years, has been a near-permanent fixture in Victorian teams over a 14-year period that dates back to his debut first-class appearance late in the 1987-88 season. The 35-year-old also recently became the Bushrangers' all-time leading wicket-taker, surpassing fellow fast bowler Alan Connolly's mark of 330 victims.

He was expected to extend that record in the Bushrangers' final four games of the season, beginning with the Pura Cup match against New South Wales that commences in Sydney on Friday.

Shaun Graf, the chairman of Victoria's selection panel, conceded today that he had been surprised by news of Reiffel's departure.

"The decision came as somewhat of a shock to us, but we respect Paul's decision and thank him for his enormous contribution to the team during his career, in particular the last two seasons as captain," said Graf in a short statement released through the Victorian Cricket Association.

Reiffel stepped down from his limited-overs captaincy duties in the lead-up to the 2001-02 season and has enjoyed only a minimal role in the state's one-day campaign this summer. But, after becoming the first player in history to lead Victoria into back-to-back first-class finals, he has remained a crucial figure in its four-day team.

Over his career, Reiffel also represented Australia in 35 Tests and 92 one-day international matches and was a member of his country's victorious 1999 World Cup side.

The announcement of Victoria's team to meet New South Wales also spelt bad news for another experienced player. Former Test off spinner Colin Miller was dropped from the side that suffered a ten wicket defeat to Western Australia on Monday, leaving lingering question marks over his first-class future.

The 37-year-old was axed from Victoria's line-up halfway through the season to make way for promising leg spinner Cameron White, and only regained the spot when White headed to New Zealand as captain of Australia's Under-19 World Cup team.

All-rounder Andrew McDonald and leg spinner Bryce McGain have won call-ups to the team in the absences of Reiffel and Miller and both are in line to make their first-class debuts.

The Victorians are expected to name their new captain tomorrow.

The full Victorian team to play New South Wales is: Jason Arnberger, Darren Berry, Matthew Elliott, Ian Hewett, Brad Hodge, Mathew Inness, Michael Klinger, Michael Lewis, Andrew McDonald, Bryce McGain, Jon Moss, Matthew Mott (12th man to be named).