County news June 13, 2007

Injury forces Graeme Welch to retire

Cricinfo staff

Graeme Welch in action © Getty Images

Derbyshire allrounder Graeme Welch has announced his immediate retirement because of injury. Doctors told Welch he could not play again following a second operation on his right Achilles tendon.

Welch, 35, was Derbyshire's Player of the Year in 2005, four years after he left Warwickshire. In 2006 he became captain. In his first-class career he scored 5075 runs at 22.86, including two centuries. He took an impressive 477 wickets at 31.51.

"Obviously it is hard to take and a very disappointing way to end my career," he said. "I am just thankful that this injury happened when I was 35 and not 25. I have enjoyed every minute of my time in cricket and hope to stay involved in the game in some capacity in the future." As a qualified coach, he has a good chance of doing so.

Dave Houghton, the club's director of cricket, said: "Graeme has been an outstanding player for the club and has been the heart and soul of our side for many years. During the lean years he often carried us almost single handed and has helped many of our current squad become better cricketers.

"It is a great shame that his career has ended in this way but he can look back and feel very proud of what he has achieved."

Tom Sears, the chief executive, told Cricinfo: "It's very sad news. He's been a fantastic servant. He's carried the club at times and put his heart and soul into the job." When asked whether the club would now be looking to replace him, he said: "You can't replace him... but we are looking at whether we need to bolster the side."

The chairman Don Amott said: 'This is a very sad day for Derbyshire cricket and our hearts go out to Graeme. He has made an enormous contribution to the club and been one of our most popular players for many years.

"He is a great character, never gave less than 100% for the team and his presence on the field will be sorely missed. Time and time again he has lifted the side with either bat or ball and he will be impossible to replace. I, along with many Derbyshire supporters, have often said 'If only we had 11 Graeme Welchs in our side', that is how highly we regard him."