Maher retires from Queensland cricket
Jimmy Maher has cut short his retirement plan, announcing he will quit from Queensland at the end of the state's Pura Cup match against South Australia starting in Adelaide on Friday. Earlier in the season Maher announced he was standing down from the captaincy at the close of the summer but would stay on as a player.
However, Maher's up and down form this year, combined with seeing his friend and Bulls team-mate Michael Kasprowicz close his career, made him consider his immediate future. "It [retirement] has been on my mind and I must admit I tossed and turned a fair bit before I settled on this," Maher said. "Coming here to make this announcement is probably the toughest thing I've had to do."
Maher, 34, needs only 99 in Adelaide to become the second player to score 10,000 first-class runs for Queensland, after his team-mate Martin Love. He is the second-most capped Bulls player with 154 first-class games and was the first Queenslander to reach the double of 100 Pura Cup matches and 100 domestic one-day games. However, Maher's playing days might not be totally over and he is keeping his options open regarding the Twenty20 competitions in India.
Maher will be remembered as an integeral part of the state's strong top order that helped the side dominate the Australian domestic scene for a decade from the mid-1990s. At 21, he tasted Queensland's first Sheffield Shield triumph in 1994-95.
The Bulls went on to win four more titles under Stuart Law, including a hat-trick from 1999-2000 to 2001-02, before Maher took over as leader and guided them to success in 2005-06. His own contribution in that most recent result was to top score with 223 in Queensland's total of 6 for 900.
Maher said he was fortunate to play in such a strong era. "The first Shield win obviously - if I could pick a moment to replay again, that would be it - but the 1996-97 Shield win in Perth was a special one too, as was the hat-trick of Pura Cup titles," he said.
"Then finally being able to hold up the Pura Cup as captain in 2005-06 was pretty amazing. I look back on the blokes I was fortunate enough to play alongside and pinch myself. If you'd ask me at the start if I could imagine playing 150 games for the Bulls, winning trophies for my state, playing for Australia and being a cricketer for 14 seasons and honestly I'd say 'no I can't'."
Maher's 26-match ODI career did not bring great individual success, but he was part of the World Cup-winning squad in South Africa in 2003, when he was surprisingly selected as the back-up wicketkeeper. His only one-day international half-century had come at Centurion the year before, when he scored 95 against South Africa in his first game back in the side following two appearances four years prior.
His domestic one-day highlights reel is dominated by a national-record score of 187 from 129 balls against Western Australia in 2003-04, and his 108 in their FR Cup final victory over Victoria last season was also memorable. Big scores became harder to come by this summer and his 298 Pura Cup runs came at an average of 19.86.
The Bulls have one more Pura Cup match this season after the Adelaide game and the selectors will wait until that clash has concluded before deciding on a replacement captain. James Hopes, Chris Simpson and Chris Hartley have all led the state in limited-overs contests in the past two summers.