Fast bowler to bow out before Pura Cup final March 6, 2008

Nicholson retires from New South Wales

Cricinfo staff

Matthew Nicholson is ready to play his last game for New South Wales © Getty Images

Matthew Nicholson has joined the growing list of veterans to retire from Australian domestic cricket this season after announcing New South Wales' Pura Cup match against South Australia starting on at the SCG Friday will be his last. Nicholson, 33, will play county cricket for Surrey this year but he is undecided whether to continue his career beyond 2008.

The timing of his decision means he will not be part of New South Wales' team for the Pura Cup final, despite only missing two matches all season. During this campaign Nicholson has collected 16 wickets at 30.68 as younger fast men like Doug Bollinger and Mark Cameron have stepped into the strike-bowler positions.

"It's the right time to finish with the Blues," Nicholson said. "I have loved playing cricket here and I will take some tremendous memories with me. I would love to stay involved with the game, perhaps as a fast-bowling coach or in a player mentor role."

The high-point of Nicholson's career came in December 1998, when at the age of 24 he earned a surprise call-up for the Boxing Day Test against England. He finished the match with four wickets but he could not hold his place ahead of the versatile Colin Miller, and although he toured Zimbabwe with the national team the next year he never found his way back to international cricket.

The elevation had come after he fought off chronic fatigue syndrome in 1997-98 and returned in 1998-99 with a blistering performance against England in a tour match, when he claimed 7 for 77 and made his maiden half-century. At that stage he was representing Western Australia, having moved there from his home city of Sydney to improve his first-class opportunities.

He switched back to New South Wales in 2003-04 and collected 39 Pura Cup wickets in his first campaign with the Blues. The next summer his tally rose to 47 victims as he combined with Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken to terrorise opposition teams and push New South Wales to a Pura Cup title - Nicholson grabbed seven wickets in the final.

But once in his 30s, Nicholson's output at state level fell away, although he continued to be a valuable county bowler with Northamptonshire and Surrey. He took 31 Pura Cup wickets last season, including five in New South Wales' losing team in the final.

David Gilbert, the chief executive of Cricket New South Wales, said Nicholson had been an excellent contributor to the state in recent seasons. "Matt has been an outstanding performer for the Blues since joining us in 2003," Gilbert said. "His total professionalism to the game, whether in training or playing, has been a shining example to his team-mates."