September 10, 2001

Watkin retires from first-class cricket to take up coaching role

Steve Watkin has announced his retirement from first-class cricket in order to take up the role of Academy Director for the new Welsh Cricket Academy.

The Glamorgan and England seamer will play his final first-class game against Surrey this week.

Watkin recently joined a distinguished group of Glamorgan cricketers to have taken 900 first-class wickets. He made his debut in 1986 (capturing Graeme Hick as his maiden wicket) and has been one of the most reliable and consistent bowlers in domestic cricket ever since.

Tall, thin and with a high action, Watkin soon became a favourite at Glamorgan where his willingness to bowl and dedication to the team cause has been much admired. His best year came in 1989 when he captured 94 first-class wickets, and won his county cap.

He was a vital component in Glamorgan's Championship winning team of 1997 and was rewarded with a successful benefit season the following year.

His international career has been disappointingly brief, however. He won a place on the A tours of Kenya and Zimbabwe in 1989-90 and Pakistan and Sri Lanka the following year.

Watkin's Test debut came against West Indies at Leeds in 1991. He performed well, taking five wickets in the game (including Richards, Haynes and Hooper), but after a disappointing performance at Lord's was dropped.

He won a Test recall on the strength of 92 first-class wickets (and a prominent role in Glamorgan's Sunday League winning side) for the final Ashes Test of 1993, taking six wickets (4-65 in the second innings - including the top three in the order) as England pulled-off a rare victory.

It was enough to win his a place in the England squad to the West Indies, and although he never played another Test, he played four One-Day Internationals on the tip, with a best of 4-47 at Sabina Park.

"It will be a huge wrench to give up playing professional cricket as I have been involved with Glamorgan - not to mention England and England A - for 16 seasons but this was too good an opportunity to miss," Watkin admitted.

"I have thought about it long and hard and accept that this is an important job, with substantial cash being invested in the scheme by the Sports Council for Wales. I am looking forward to the challenge of helping to develop the next generation of Glamorgan cricketers.

"There is a lot of talent at junior level in Wales and I'm sure the new Academy will only add to the development of the best young players.

"I feel very lucky to have enjoyed considerable success as a cricketer and I am now looking forward to giving something back to the game that has been nothing but good for me.

"Hopefully, I can bow out with a few wickets against Surrey in our last match this week."

But Watkin did suggest that Glamorgan followers may not have sent he last of him.

"Glamorgan have said they intend to keep my registration as a player just in case I am required to play," he added.