Preston Mommsen, Scotland's captain and one of their leading batsmen, has announced his retirement from international cricket to pursue a career outside of the game. Mommsen, who has been a vocal advocate of Associate nations being given greater support, said he had received "a very exciting and attractive opportunity in the corporate world".
Mommsen, 29, took on the captaincy in 2014 and led Scotland at the World Cup a year later. At the 2016 World T20, he oversaw Scotland's first victory at a global ICC event, at the 21st attempt.
His finest hour as a Scotland player came at the 2014 World Cup Qualifier, when he scored 520 runs at 86.66 on the way to being named Man of the Tournament. Having replaced the injured Kyle Coetzer as captain after the first two matches, he went on to lead Scotland to victory in the final, making 139 not out against UAE - his highest ODI score.
Mommsen remained a key member of Scotland's batting line-up and his retirement will leave them with a significant hole to fill in the middle order. In August, he scored 111 not out and 80 not out as Scotland beat UAE 2-0 in their WCL Championship fixtures, leaving them well placed to reach the 2018 World Cup Qualifier.
During the first match against UAE, he passed 1000 ODI runs for Scotland and talked about becoming the first to reach 2000. However, he has now decided to step away from the game and take up a career in property investment.
"After much thought and reflection, I have taken the decision to step down as the captain of Scotland and not renew my contract with Cricket Scotland, in order to pursue a very exciting and attractive opportunity in the corporate world," Mommsen said. "It has been an incredibly difficult decision but one that I felt I had to make at this stage in my life.
"I would like to thank everyone involved at Cricket Scotland, both past and present, for giving me the opportunity to fulfil my dreams and supporting me on my journey. I am enormously proud of what we have achieved over the last few years, and I have no doubt that the team and the organisation will continue to grow its presence on the global stage in the future.
"I leave the team in a very healthy position with a world-class management setup and a group of players that are demonstrating the skill and hunger to push Scotland cricket into the top 12 in the world. I would like to wish both the team and the organisation all the very best."
Mommsen's decision to step away from cricket is likely to have been influenced by scant opportunity to perform at the highest level. With the 2019 World Cup reduced to ten teams - and the top eight qualifying automatically - Scotland face a stiff task to reach the tournament in England. The 2018 qualifier would likely pit them against Afghanistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe and either Pakistan or West Indies for one of two spots.
Scotland also took part in the last World T20 - although Mommsen was critical of the format, where the first round saw eight teams, including six Associates, compete to make it through to the Super 10s - but the next one is scheduled for 2020, with a proposed 2018 event still uncertain.
At the 2015 World Cup, Mommsen was among several players from Associate nations to call on the ICC to help create a more level playing field, with increased fixtures against Full Members.
He retires having played 146 times for Scotland, averaging 32.38 with the bat in ODIs and 34.91 in T20 internationals. Born in South Africa, where he played for the Under-19s, Mommsen moved to Edinburgh in 2006 and was first capped in 2010 after completing the qualification period.
Scotland's head coach, Grant Bradburn, said: "This is a bittersweet situation for our team and for Cricket Scotland. Above all we are very happy for Preston to be offered such an exciting opportunity. Preston is intelligent, well respected and ambitious, so for him to be moving into a corporate field that he is passionate about is just brilliant.
"Preston Mommsen offers the team many qualities that will be difficult to replace, he will be a big loss. A quality experienced batsmen at the peak of his skills, consistently our fittest player, top fielder and of course our leader with a tough uncompromising attitude. Preston has proudly been a champion for the Associate game and a role model who has helped bring next tier nations to global attention, always striving to give Associate cricket the growing credit it deserves.
"Preston should be very proud of his many achievements as an international player and we wish him every success in his new career."