October 2, 2007

Thanks for the memories

As the dust settles on a wet English season, albeit one with a pulsating finale, Cricinfo takes a look at those players who will not be returning in 2008

At the end of a wet English county season, albeit one that had a pulsating finale, Cricinfo takes a look at those players who will not be returning in 2008



International recognition came late for Shaun Udal © Getty Images

While the high-profile retirements this year have dominated the headlines - Andy Flower and Ashley Giles, who both quit, although they had not been in action for some time - a fair number of trusty county yeomen, too, called it a day at the end of 2007.

Of those with international cricket behind them, Shaun Udal, 38, whose four England Test caps came when it seemed the chance had long since gone, leads the way. He struggled to hold down a place at Hampshire this summer and was out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronnie Irani's knee injury finally proved insurmountable and he quit Essex in June, moving seamlessly into a radio career, although his speech at the Cricket Writers' Club dinner suggested that he might not be moving into diplomatic circles.

Richard Johnson, another whose career had been hampered by injury, quit after failing to regain a place in the Middlesex side. He played three Tests and twice won the Man-of-the-Match awards - they were against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh - but was always on the periphery.

Heath Streak will not be returning to Warwickshire, and given the continuing turmoil and politics in Zimbabwe, there have to be doubts about whether he will play again. He finishes on 499 first-class wickets, and close to half of those have been in Tests. His record does not do justice to his Herculean efforts to hold Zimbabwe together; had he been used more as a strike bowler and not as a workhorse, he might have achieved far more.



Richard Montgomerie: signed off with 82 and another Championship-winner's medal © Getty Images

Sussex's Richard Montgomerie had the satisfaction of bowing out with a third Championship-winners' medal, and he also got out while on top. He finished with exactly 1000 Championship runs and only narrowly missed a hundred in the last game.

Not everyone departed on such a high. In July, Durham's Nicky Peng retired suddenly, admitting that he had succumbed to "the mind games which have affected me". At 25, that said much for the pressures on the modern player. And Warwickshire's Graeme Welch finally admitted defeat against a serious Achilles injury in June.

Ben Hutton was good enough to silence comparisons with his father and grandfather and established himself as a solid county batsman. But the Middlesex captaincy weighed heavily on his health and desire, and he was still only 30 when he announced his retirement.

Umpires, other than international ones, spend most of their time as cricket's anonymous participants, and the retirement of the charismatic Roy Palmer went almost unnoticed, although the players at Trent Bridge did give him a standing ovation as he left the field for the last time. Palmer's mobile home, in which he travelled from match to match, will be much missed.

Also retired

Darren Thomas - Despite a move to Essex he continued to be hit by injury and poor form.

Dan Cherry - Glamorgan opening batsman who never maintained a first-team slot. "The world of crime awaits me," he said on retiring to pursue a career in criminology.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo