Doug Bollinger, the rumbustious New South Wales fast bowler, has chosen to retire at the age of 36 as the Blues look towards more youthful pace options for the resumption of the Sheffield Shield later this week.
Having first turned out for his state as far back as 2002-03, Bollinger played 12 Tests and 39 ODIs for Australia, with handsome records in each format. With 290 wickets for NSW, he is the one of the state's most prolific fast bowling wicket-takers. Tall, fast and capable of swinging the ball both ways, Bollinger was also a popular cult figure, remembered for antics such as mistakenly kissing the sponsor's badge on his shirt rather than the Australian coat of arms after taking a Test wicket in New Zealand in early 2010.
That tour was part of a summer in which he took 37 wickets in seven Tests against West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand, and formed a vital part of the Australian attack, notably enjoying repeated success against Chris Gayle. However, his time in the team ended abruptly: he injured his side while performing well in the Chandigarh Test against India later that year, and then bowled poorly in the Adelaide Ashes Test of the 2010-11 summer after entering the match short of full fitness.
Bollinger did return to the fold as a back-up for Mitchell Johnson during the 2013-14 summer, and made his last Australian appearance in a Twenty20 against South Africa in November 2014. He has since been a consistent part of the NSW and Sydney Sixers sides, but has now decided to finish up at the same time the state looks to a younger generation.
"I was pretty raw and they gave me a really good chance at cricket," Bollinger said of his first state coaches Steve Rixon and Trevor Bayliss. "My first captain for NSW was Steve Waugh, which was unbelievable. I played under some great captains and players for NSW and Australia including Steve, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting.
"To play for 15 or 16 seasons with the SCG as my home ground has been amazing. It's been a great ride. I met so many wonderful people and achieved the ultimate ambition of playing Test cricket for Australia. Now it's time for the next stage of my life with my wife Tegan and my children Skye and Liam. I couldn't have achieved everything I have without them."
Andrew Jones, the NSW chief executive, said Bollinger had enjoyed a remarkable career considering his late entry into the game as a teenager. "Doug was a larger than life presence on and off the field," Jones said. "Whether it was charging in full throttle for another delivery, celebrating a wicket with unrestrained joy or being the personality of the dressing rooms, he was always imposing himself on the game.
"Finishing his career as ninth on the list of NSW first-class wicket takers and playing all three forms of the game for Australia is a remarkable achievement given he did not play cricket until he was 15, joining local club Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL in Sydney's west. For someone who simply wanted to play with his mates in the park, Doug's 290 wickets for NSW make him the state's third most successful fast bowler of all time behind Geoff Lawson and fellow left armer Mike Whitney. Doug will always be an important part of the NSW Cricket family."
James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said he hoped that Bollinger would stay involved in the game following his retirement as a player. "Doug has had a fantastic career, and we congratulate him on his achievements at international and domestic level," Sutherland said. "He was a fierce competitor on the field who gave his all every time he represented his country.
"He was a skilful bowler who claimed more than 100 international wickets and enjoyed success against the best in the world. Doug has made a tremendous contribution to cricket in Australia across more than 15 years - we thank him for his service, and hope he remains involved in the game following his playing career."
Mickey Edwards, 23, Charlie Stobo, 22, Harry Conway, 25, and Gurinder Sandhu, 24, are the young pacemen in the NSW Shield squad to face Western Australia from Thursday, alongside the experienced Trent Copeland.