County news April 7, 2005

DeFreitas to retire at end of season

Cricinfo staff

Phil DeFreitas: retiring at the end of the season © Getty Images

Phil DeFreitas, the last active English cricketer who knows how it feels to win the Ashes, has announced that he is retiring at the end of the forthcoming season.

DeFreitas, 39, made his England debut as a 20-year-old on Mike Gatting's victorious Ashes tour in 1986-87, where he starred with five wickets and an important 40 in England's first-Test victory at Brisbane.

He went on to play 44 Tests and 103 one-day internationals in a ten-year England career, and though was one of several cricketers of his generation to be burdened with the label of "the next Ian Botham", he was nonetheless good enough to take 140 Test wickets, and fell just 66 short of 1000 runs as well.

DeFreitas was rarely at his most effective overseas - on the 1992-93 tour of India, he failed to take a single first-class wicket - but in favourable swinging conditions, he could be lethal. In 1994, he took nine wickets to see off New Zealand at Trent Bridge, and his best Test figures of 7 for 70 also came in a winning cause, against Sri Lanka at Lord's in 1991.

His batting remained frustratingly hit-and-miss, and an eventual Test average of 14.82 didn't do justice to his talents. In the summer of 1994, he twice turned matches on their head with his long-handled hitting, against New Zealand at Old Trafford and South Africa at The Oval, and then did so again the following winter, with his highest score of 88, against Australia at Adelaide.

DeFreitas began his county career as a teenager at Leicestershire, and went on to play for Lancashire and Derbyshire before returning to his original club in 2000. He went on to captain the club for the 2003 season, before standing down midway through 2004, but at the age of 39, he is currently the oldest man on the county circuit.

"For England, Phil was a wonderful young man with a bit of pace, his fielding was magnificent and he had a bit of talent with the bat," said Gatting in an interview with BBC Sport. "He's one of those guys you want in the game. It's sad he's going to retire but he's been good for the game."