Napier to retire after 2016 season
Graham Napier, the Essex allrounder, has announced he will retire at the end of the 2016 English season to take up a position running his cricket academy.
Napier, 36, made his Essex debut in 1997 and is widely considered a player unlucky not to have earned an England cap in white-ball cricket. The closest he came was when he was named in the 2009 World T20 squad but did not feature in the starting XI during the tournament.
It was in T20 where he has produced the most stunning performance of his career when in 2008 he struck 152 off 58 balls against Sussex with a then world-record 16 sixes. His career-best first-class score of 196 off 130 balls in 2011 was also an extraordinary display of hitting against Surrey, at Whitgift School, when he equalled Andrew Symonds' first-class record of 16 sixes in an innings, a mark which has subsequently been overtaken by Colin Munro's 23 for Auckland.
With the ball, Napier can be quick when conditions - and his body - allows and has developed into a fine death bowler in one-day cricket. In 2013 he took four wickets in four balls during a Yorkshire Bank 40 match against Surrey, where he finished with a career-best 7 for 32. His first-class record, which includes batting and bowling figures around the 30 mark, highlights his versatility as a cricketer.
Napier is retiring to take up the role of Director of the Graham Napier Cricket Academy at Royal Hospital School in Suffolk which is due to open in September.
"The opportunity at RHS is one that I could not turn down," Napier said. "I feel the time is right to move on, and give back to the game that has given me so much. I have loved every second of playing for Essex, and will be doing my best to make sure I retire with a bang at the end of the season."
Ronnie Irani, Essex's cricket committee chairman, said: "Graham has had a fabulous career in all three formats of the game for us, and has been the very definition of loyalty over the past 19 years which is what Essex and its supporters are all about. We naturally wish Graham all the best with his next career move and he will be sorely missed."