Zimbabwe news July 28, 2013

Ray Price retires from international cricket

Ray Price, the Zimbabwe left-arm spinner, has retired from international cricket. Price, 37, was included in Zimbabwe's squad for their ongoing one-day series against India but won't be travelling with the team to Bulawayo, the venue for the last two games.

It was widely suspected that this series would be Price's last for Zimbabwe, but with national contracts expiring after India's visit, he has decided to call time on his career mid-series. "I was going to wait until my contract expired to call it a day but, yes, I've decided to retire from international cricket," Price told ESPNcricinfo. "I won't be going with the guys to Bulawayo. I'm retired."

There had been some confusion over Price's place in the squad before the series because he wasn't named in the initial list, but coach Andy Waller insisted that he had always been part of the team. Price was ever present during Zimbabwe's net sessions in the lead-up to the India series, and it had been thought that he would be given a chance to bid farewell with one final match.

That was not to be, however, and he will finish with exactly 100 wickets in 102 ODIs, to go with his 80 dismissals in 22 Tests and 13 scalps in 16 Twenty20 internationals.

"Pricey's called it a day," Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor said. "If he was going to play it was going to be here in Harare. We're going to miss his experience, but in saying that it does give our young spinners who are coming through a great opportunity."

Price's career straddled two distinct eras in Zimbabwean cricket. He debuted as a 23-year old in the third Test of the series against Sri Lanka at Harare Sports Club in 1999, but just as he established himself in the national side he threw in his lot with Heath Streak and the rebel cricketers and found himself ostracised. He left Zimbabwe for England and spent three and a half seasons with Worcestershire.

His refusal of a new county contract in 2007 surprised many, and in November of that year he came out of exile and returned to Zimbabwe in the series against West Indies. Having left as something of a fringe player - particularly in one-day cricket - Price quickly re-established himself as a canny and economical bowler in ODIs.

In 2009, he picked up 44 wickets at 20.61 and ascended to second in the ICC ODI rankings for bowlers. He remained Zimbabwe's senior bowler for several years, and was their leading performer at the 2011 World Cup in India with nine wickets at 18.77. His last match for Zimbabwe was the Bridgetown Test against West Indies in March this year, in which he took just one wicket as the team suffered a heavy defeat.

As important as his bowling was the spirit Price brought to a team struggling to find its way after all the upheavals in Zimbabwean cricket. A fierce adversary, Price bowled left-arm spin with the attitude of a fast bowler, refusing to back down no matter who the opposition and helping instill some backbone in the side.

"He's a hell of a competitor," Taylor said. "He's a guy that plays with his heart on his sleeve. He leaves nothing out on the field, he'll give you everything and he's a real team man. Unfortunately age is not on his side anymore, and he's moving on with his family.

"We'll miss him, but I'm sure he'll still be in the picture with our young spinners coming through and I'm sure he'll always be contributing somewhere along the line."

Though he will no longer be part of the national side, Price will still be a regular at Harare Sports Club. He runs the sports equipment shop at the ground, and will divide his time between the shop, his family and one of his favourite pursuits: fishing.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town