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During the season a number of players announced their retirements, including some major forces on the county scene. Cricinfo recaps those who have decided their playing days are over
September 29, 2008
During the season a number of players announced their retirements, including some major forces on the county scene. Cricinfo recaps those who have decided their playing days are over.
For a full list of player movement click here
A county colossus, an international enigma. Even though Graeme Hick was 42 when he announced his retirement it still seemed like something of a surprise, as it felt as though he could go on forever. An injury-hit farewell wasn't what he deserved, but he left a host of memories for the Worcestershire faithful to savour. From his 405 not out against Somerset, to 1000 runs before the end of May through to his 100th hundred, which he scored at New Road.
He was always happier in the surrounds of Worcester than the glare of the international stage, but it is one of the unanswered questions as to how he might have managed under a more understanding management. As it was he finished his Test career with six centuries and an average of 31. He had his moments - 178 against India and 141 against South Africa - but he never appeared totally comfortable. One-day internationals were different. He nearly had a World Cup winner's medal in 1992 and enjoyed a prolific series in Australia in 1998-99.
His final England appearance came against Sri Lanka in March 2001. Then he settled back into a full-time county life and continued to be a run machine. Whenever someone thought he was fading, back he would come with another crushing display. He revelled in Twenty20 - showing no one is ever too old to learn - and lost none of his power or timing.
A last innings at New Road would have been perfect, but careers don't often end that way. At least his final Worcestershire knock came at a home venue, at Kidderminster, after floods forced a change of venue. He left with a wave of the bat to a standing ovation and county cricket won't feel quite the same in 2009.
Click here for information on the Graeme Hick tribute being featured on ESPN Classic
Darren Gough was the heartbeat of whichever side he played for. There's no doubt that when he turns out in a legends beach match, during the Stanford week, in Antigua that he'll be going all out to win. He doesn't know any other way.
At international level Gough was the link between England's underachieving side of the mid-1990s and the more successful unit of the early 2000s forged under Duncan Fletcher. He played a starring role in the consecutive series victories against West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but often saved his best for the Aussies - even if no one else did. From his flamboyant first adventure down under in 1994, to his Sydney hat-trick in 1999, via Edgbaston 1997, Gough was one of the few England players the Australians respected.
His own desire for top-level competition made him extend his ODI career too long. When he made his finally appearance in 2006 he was a shadow of the bowler that became England's greatest in one-day cricket. His skill of bowling yorkers has only been matched by Andrew Flintoff in the current generation.
First-class cricket became an increasing struggle for Gough during his final couple of season's, but one final challenge presented itself when he returned to Yorkshire as captain in 2007. He couldn't quite end with a final piece of silverware, but was at least able to bring down the curtain in his own time. TV beckons, but there's a strong chance we haven't actually seen the last of Darren Gough on a cricket pitch.
Is he the greatest overseas player in county history? There are a few competing for the title, but any Sussex supporter will certainly vote for Mushtaq. His career was revived when he joined Sussex in 2003, as his international career was waning after 52 Tests and 144 ODIs. Some thought it a foolish signing of a fading star who would clog up the system, but how wrong they were proved. Mushtaq enjoyed the game and played with a constant bounce and smile.
He was still far too good for many county line-ups, taking 103 wickets in Sussex's maiden Championship title in 2003, and passed the 100-mark again in 2006. His form earned him a brief Pakistan recall, but it proved a rare failure for Mushtaq and his Test career ended in 2003.
Time started to catch up with Mushtaq at the beginning of the 2008 season when his knees began to cause problems. In an interview with Cricinfo in April he said there was a chance this could be his last season, even though there was a year left on his contract. His enthusiasm never wavered, but his body was starting to creak. He tried to return mid-season, but succumbed again and announced his retirement. He finished with 478 first-class wickets in six seasons for Sussex.
However, it may not quite be the last of Mushtaq on the field. He has a contract with the ICL and wants to continue playing, then a coaching career beckons. Some people find it hard to give, especially when they love the game as much as Mushy.
Although Jeremy Snape's 10 ODIs came in 2001 and 2002 his career really took off with the arrival of Twenty20. He was a key part of Leicestershire's great success in the competition, constantly innovating and thinking how to test the percieved boundaries of the game. His 'moon ball' became a hallmark of Leicestershire's cricket and made many batsmen look foolish. His Twenty20 success was so great that it earned him an England recall for the first global event in South Africa in 2007. However, at the highest level his on-field skills didn't quite stand-up. Already, though, he was thinking of his next career and made a name for himself as a sports psychologist. Firstly he was part of backroom team for the Rajasthan Royals, who won the inaugural IPL, and was then poached by South Africa as part of the their support staff.
A hard-working and at times destructive left-arm swing bowler, Kevin Dean finally gave into injury, but not before a distinguished career for Derbyshire where he took 401 wickets. His best season came in 2002 when he was joint-leading wicket-taker with 83 scalps. He had one famous moment with the bat, too, when he struck the winning runs against the Australians during a tour match in 1997.
A gritty left-hander, Iain Sutcliffe moved to Lancashire from Leicestershire in 2003 after being part of the Championship winning sides at Grace Road in 1996 and 1998. He slotted in at the top of Lancashire's order, forming a long-term partnership with Mark Chilton. Slowly, though, he was pushed aside as Paul Horton made his mark and the club went for a host of overseas batsmen. Mid-way through this season he announced his retirement to focus on business interests. His highest score for Lancashire was 159 against Warwickshire in 2006, and his career-best 203 came for Leicestershire in 2001, while he finished with 9464 first-class runs.
Often the forgotten men, umpires also come to the ends of their careers at this time of the season. Allan Jones is calling time so he can take up a contract with the Indian Cricket League, while Barrie Leadbeater ends his umpiring days after 28 years on the circuit as does Graham Burgess after 18 years. They are as important as the players.
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