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Graeme Hick announces retirement

Cricinfo staff

September 2, 2008

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Graeme Hick batting during his remarkable summer in 1988 when he scored 2713 first-class runs, including 405* at Taunton. © Getty Images
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The former England batsman, Graeme Hick, has announced that he will retire at the end of the summer to take up a coaching post at Malvern College.

Hick, 42, said in April that he was "just going to see how things go, and make a decision later in the season." Although he has been in good form with the bat, his season has been blighted by a long-standing elbow injury, and he has decided the time is right to end a career with Worcestershire which started in 1984.

"I felt it was right to finish," an emotional Hick told The Press Association at Worcester. "I had a feeling at the start of the year that it was going to be my last year. I just wanted to wait until a bit later in the year just to make sure it was the right decision. I think there are guys in the dressing room who need to start playing first-team cricket and my time is up."

Hick said that his elbow had not been a significant factor in his decision to leave now, and added that the back problems which kicked in towards the end of his Test career had also receded in recent years. But, he added, he did not want to start another season with doubts as to whether he would be able to continue to the end, although he did not rule out a sojourn with the rebel Indian Cricket League before he packs in his professional career for good.

In July Hick became the second most prolific run-scorer in all cricket (first-class and limited-overs combined), with more than 64,000 runs to his name, and his tally of 136 hundreds places him eighth on the all-time list. In total, he has made 294 scores of 50-plus in first-class cricket, while his tally of 1007 catches (288 in limited-overs and 709 in first-class) places him second only to Frank Woolley (1018) among non-wicketkeepers.

Despite his exceptional form at county level, Hick was never quite able to reproduce that at international level. In 65 Tests he averaged only 31.32, although he was more successful in his 120 ODI appearances.

In 1991-92 he helped England reach the final of the World Cup at Melbourne, where they went on to lose to Pakistan, and in Australia seven years later he scored three hundreds and an unbeaten 66 in four consecutive innings of the VB Series.

Born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), Hick was selected as a teenager for Zimbabwe's 1983 World Cup squad, but soon decided that his future lay with England. After arriving at New Road, he swiftly took on the status of England's Great White Hope, and in 1988, he set pulses racing when he surged to 1000 runs before the end of May, a tally that was achieved largely thanks to two of his most totemic innings.

Against Somerset at Taunton on May 5 and 6, Hick carved his name into the record-books with his career-best 405 not out (the next best score in the innings was Steve Rhodes's 56). Then, three weeks later, the formidable West Indians came to visit, with Hick still requiring 153 in the match to reach his milestone. He responded with an unbeaten 172 against an attack including Patrick Patterson, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop.

Those same bowlers, however, exacted their revenge three years later when Hick finally became eligible to play for England. He was thrust in for his debut Test against West Indies at Headingley where Ambrose, in particular, tormented him. He was dismissed for 6 and 6, and made only 73 runs at 10.71 before being dropped for the fifth Test of the series at The Oval.

It would be another 18 months before Hick finally recorded his maiden Test hundred - an emphatic 178 against India at Bombay - but that proved to be a false dawn. He managed only five more centuries in his ten-year Test career, although his equilibrium was not aided by England's erratic selection policy of the mid-1990s. He was picked and dropped ten times in his career, and became a favoured scapegoat of the chairman of selectors, Ray Illingworth.

Ultimately, Hick was at his most content away from the limelight, at his beloved Worcester, where he has scored 31,149 of his first-class runs, as well as 106 of his hundreds. When asked what his time at New Road had meant to him, Hick responded: "I can't put that into words now."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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