Andre Botha announces retirement
The Ireland allrounder Andre Botha has announced his retirement from international cricket at the age of 35, after an injury-plagued finale to a career in which he represented his country on 141 occasions.
Botha's five-year career coincided with Ireland's emergence on the global stage. In that time he scored 3606 runs at an average of 27.74, which puts him sixth in the country's all-time aggregate list.
He scored 13 half-centuries and six hundreds, with a highest score of 186 against Scotland in 2007, and he also holds the record partnership for Ireland - 360 for the third wicket with Eoin Morgan against UAE in 2007.
Botha also excelled with the ball for Ireland, taking 176 wickets an average of just 21.99, which places him eighth on the country's all-time list. His best bowling figures of 4 for 19 came against Kenya in an ODI in 2008, but it will be his spell of 2 for 5 in the 2007 World Cup win against Pakistan for which he is best remembered.
"I have given this matter serious and long consideration, but ultimately have come to the conclusion that the time is right now," said Botha. "I can assure you it's a matter I haven't taken lightly, but sometimes your body makes up your mind for you.
"It's hard to pick a special memory from my Irish career, as every time I have put on the green jersey has been a personal highlight. I just want to thank some of my very close friends for their support and belief over the years - you know who you are.
Ireland coach Phil Simmons led the tributes to Botha saying: "Andre has been an integral part of this Irish team's success since his debut way back in 2001. He will be sorely missed, not only for his cleverly disguised slower balls or his trademark square cuts, but for his total dedication to the cause and the team.
"His courage continuing to represent Ireland with the different injuries he's endured over the last couple of years has been incredible, and shows just what a big heart he has. On behalf of the Irish team I want to wish Andre all the best for the future, and I hope his invaluable experience will not be lost to Irish cricket."
Former coach Adrian Birrell praised Botha's role in Irish cricket reaching tenth place in the world rankings saying: ''There comes a time for every player and sadly Andre has decided this is the right time to retire. He has been a colossal player for Ireland in the past decade.
"I had the great good fortune that Andre had completed his qualification terms when I arrived and he became one of the major players around whom I built the team during my tenure as National Coach. His all round ability was invaluable and he made many match winning contributions. His ability to take care of the back end of the power plays and the partnership with Kyle McCallan in building pressure in the middle overs was crucial to our success.
"I remember vividly his runs securing our future in defeating Denmark in 2002, the great victory winning the ICC Intercontinental Cup against Kenya in 2005 and his record partnership with Eoin Morgan against UAE in 2007 which paved the way for the successful 2007 World Cup campaign, and who can forget his spell in the famous Pakistan victory.
"I value Andre as a cricketer and more importantly as a friend. I have no doubt he will continue to make a contribution to Cricket Ireland. Congratulations Andre on a great career - your contribution to Irish Cricket will be remembered and appreciated for a very long time.'
In an emotional press release, Botha thanked his wife, Yvonne, his team-mates and the staff at Cricket Ireland for their support throughout his career, and urged all concerned to keep pressing the country's case for inclusion at the 2015 World Cup, after the ICC's decision to reduce the number of participants from 14 to 10.
"It's been a great journey," he said. "We achieved dreams that many thought impossible. To the rest of the players who played with me for Ireland, it's been fantastic - keep it going. Keep fighting the fight for 2015."