66-Test Prince announces retirement
Former South African middle-order batsman Ashwell Prince has announced his retirement from the game.
Prince, who last played internationally in the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka in 2011 and will turn 37 in May, will play his last match in South Africa for the Warriors against the Cobras starting on March 27. He will end his career at Lancashire over the South African winter, where he is a registered as a Kolpak player.
"I am looking forward to a new phase in my life and am very grateful for the opportunities that cricket has afforded me," Prince said. "I am thankful that I have had a wonderful career from a sport that I love and thank everyone that has been involved in any way over the past 19 years of my career."
Prince played 66 Tests for South Africa between 2002 and 2011, scored 3665 runs at an average of 41.64, which included 11 hundreds and 11 fifties. Of those, he has in the past listed his 101 against England at Lord's in July 2008 and the 150 he made against Australia in Cape Town the following year among his favourites. Prince also played 52 ODIs and a single T20.
His choice of top centuries tells the story of Prince's time as an international cricketer, where he carved a reputation for being a bridge over troubled water and batting South Africa to safety. From the first match he played, against Australia at the Wanderers in 2002, Prince was the calm in the storm. He top-scored with 49 as South Africa were bowled out for 159 and went on to lose by an innings.
Prince's first hundred came against Zimbabwe at Centurion in 2005 and was swiftly followed by centuries against West Indies in Antigua and Australia in Sydney. By then, Prince had established his spot in the side. He went on to score Test centuries against nine of the ten Test playing countries with Sri Lanka the exception and was part of the team who began the remarkable run of South Africa being unbeaten in Test series on the road since 2006.
He played a key role in the country's first post-readmission series win over England in England in 2008 with a century at Lord's to set up the fighting draw which inspired South Africa for the rest of their tour. Prince was also in the squad that beat Australia Down Under in 2008-09 but was ruled out with a broken thumb.
JP Duminy replaced him and scored a fifty on debut and a century in the following match and Prince found himself unable to get his place back. He was left out of the first two Tests of the return series but recalled for the third, because of an injury to Graeme Smith. Prince was also asked to open the batting and captain in that match. After initially accepting the latter, he turned it down when he was informed of the former, which was not his regular batting position. With defiance as a motivator, Prince scored 150 and South Africa won the match.
Prince would play 18 more Tests for South Africa, without getting into triple-figures and pressure on him to produce mounted. When South Africa lost a fourth consecutive match at Kingsmead, to Sri Lanka, Prince was the casualty. He was dropped for the New Year's Test the following week and did not play for the country again.
Although his international career ended, Prince continued to excel domestically. In the winter after his axing he played as an overseas professional for Lancashire and was their only player to top 1,000 runs in the season. The following year Prince signed a two-year Kolpak deal with Lancashire, which he will complete this year.
He has also been a regular member of the Warriors franchise in South Africa and currently lies sixth in the ongoing first-class competition run charts. The team paid tribute to him at a dinner on Tuesday night. Prince's future plans include starting a football academy in his city of his birth, Port Elizabeth, where he said there are not enough opportunities for young children interested in pursuing football as a career. Prince currently lives in Cape Town with his wife and two young sons.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent