May 2, 2002

Competitive fires burn out for Dion Nash

Nash bowls during the first Test at Edgbaston in 1999
Photograph © CricInfo

New Zealand Cricket's honest toiler Dion Nash has reached the end of his tether, a tether more sorely tested than for most in cricket, and has announced his retirement from all levels of the game.

His departure leaves New Zealand weaker in the 'guts' department because there was no-one who personified more the attributes and benefits of determination than the bowling all-rounder from Northland.

There were times when his competitiveness rubbed spectators up the wrong way but none of his team-mates ever complained, they knew just what Nash brought to their side's effectiveness.

Aged 30, he has signed up for post-graduate study with the University of Melbourne in the field of athlete, career and education with a view to bringing together all the information he has accrued in his sporting career and putting it to future use to help others in their careers.

It wasn't a sad decision for Nash.

"I'm really happy with it. I've known for a couple of months that it might be the case but I wanted to cover all my bases and make sure I made the decision when I was feeling fitter," he said.

In 32 Tests he took 93 wickets at 28.48 and scored 729 runs at 23.51 while in One-Day Internationals he took 64 wickets and hit 624 runs in his 81 matches.

The statistics cannot tell the real story of his career however, Nash was too often cut down by injury at crucial stages of his career, But when he was fit, he gave an extra edge to the side.

His finest moments occurred in 1999, and on the tour of England especially. New Zealand's 2-1 series win.

"You have to give praise to Christopher Doig for the management team he got together around that time. John Graham as manager, Gilbert Enoka and Ashley Ross with their skills and Steve Rixon as coach.

"We came out of that tour as grown men," he said.

And it was the series-winning final Test at the Oval that provided the wicket he enjoyed most in his career.

England were chasing only 246 runs to win the game and at 143/3 were going well. But then Nash struck, having England's master of the chase, Mike Atherton caught by wicket-keeper Adam Parore for 64.

"It looked like they were cruising but his wicket just happened," he said.

Alec Stewart and Mark Ramprakash followed, victims of Nash, in short order and the win was secured.

The series at home later in the summer against India also produced some of his best batting with a 137-run eighth-wicket partnership with Daniel Vettori that set New Zealand up to win the second Test of the series.

But it was his last Test innings, against Australia at the 'Gabba last summer that he remembers most. He scored 25 in quick time to help New Zealand avoid the follow-on.

"Against their attack, I was really proud of that innings."

It allowed Stephen Fleming to declare immediately the follow-on was past and set up a challenge to which the Australians responded by leaving New Zealand a target that they very nearly achieved.

He also recalled that Oval Test against England when he was at the other end while Chris Cairns scored the match-winning 80.

"I only scored 20-odd runs but it was one of those occasions when you felt just staying there was helping the side," he said.

Nash said it was probably fair to say he was an under-fulfilled batsman, but that was largely the result of the workload he had carried as a bowler.

But in the end Nash's opportunities have been cut short by the horrific injury toll he has suffered.

He wasn't tempted to sit down and count up the number of injuries he had suffered but admitted that the effort in going through rehabilitation again was finally what forced his retirement hand.

"Getting over the injuries has taken so much energy, both physical and mental.

"The motivation is not there any more.

"I feel I've had 10 years in the sport, and a few of them have been spent getting over injuries.

"But I have been very lucky. Cricket has been a fantastic vehicle for me to grow as a human being and to display the skills I have," he said.

The workload on players now was tough. New Zealand Cricket had to remember that their main product was the Black Caps and if they hurt that product they hurt themselves.

It might be just as well for New Zealand to look to perform well at home and win its series here and then have one overseas tour a winter to compete.

Nash does hope that once he has had a break away from the game, he gets the chance to work with a group of young players to give them the benefit of his experience, whether it be coaching a school side, or developing a group of young players.

He will also be keeping in touch with the game through his interest in the New Zealand Players' Association.

He added that he is highly excited about the standard of players in New Zealand at the moment.

"The talent on the first-class scene is as strong as at any time in my 10 years. I just hope we can get some flat, hard wickets to let all that talent develop. Every team has a fast bowler or two, there are lots of young spinners and there are good batsmen capable of taking attacks apart in each team, they just need good tracks to play on," he said.