Jacob Oram has announced his retirement from Test cricket but will continue to play one-day and Twenty20 matches for New Zealand. Oram cited his ongoing injury problems as the reason behind his decision and he hoped that by cutting back his workload he would be able to extend his international career.
Oram, 31, recently returned home from the Champions Trophy in South Africa with a hamstring problem, the latest in a long and wide-ranging list of injuries. His troubles have included back and foot worries and have limited him to 33 Test appearances over a seven-year career.
He had spoken in the past of the options available to him to prolong his career and he said his preference was to give up Tests rather than abandon bowling. Oram has now done just that, following the lead of another injury-prone allrounder Andrew Flintoff.
"The last few years have shown that my body cannot handle the strains and stresses that come with being an allrounder, playing all three formats for up to ten months a year," Oram said. "For the sake of longevity I have had to make a decision that will decrease my workload, so I can concentrate all my efforts on the shorter forms of the game.
"The decision to choose limited-overs cricket over Test cricket has a lot to do with playing opportunities. The Black Caps play a lot more limited-overs cricket than Tests, and there's also the opportunity to continue playing in world events such as the World Cup, World T20 and Champions Trophy, as well as the IPL."
Another factor was the impending arrival of Oram's first child, due next month, which will give him extra incentive to spend plenty of time at home. Oram will remain on a New Zealand Cricket central contract and has his sights set firmly on the 2011 World Cup, although he said that ideally he would like to play for a couple of seasons beyond that.
On the Test scene, Oram scored 1780 runs at 36.32 and collected 60 wickets at 33.05. A powerful and clean striker of the ball, Oram struck five Test centuries, remarkably each time in the first Test of a series, and his highest score of 133 came in a crushing loss to South Africa in Centurion in April 2006.
It was an innings that Oram described as both his best and his worst. "You know you're not looking as good as you would like," he said at the time, "and your feet aren't moving as well as you would like, and you're not hitting the ball where you would like. But 133 is damn satisfying."
Oram struggled to have as much impact with the ball and his peak came early in his career when he collected 4 for 41 against India in Hamilton in his second Test. It was as close as he ever got to a five-wicket haul and in his last five Tests he managed only one wicket.
Oram did enjoy spending some time in the top five of the ICC's allrounder ranking list last year and he considered his bowling such a key part of his game that he was unwilling to give it up. He said he had attempted to delay as long as possible a decision about his future career.
"However in light of my latest injury at the Champions Trophy it has became clear to me that now is the time to sacrifice something to try and stay in the game longer," Oram said. "I have really enjoyed my Test career and I leave that format with many fond memories. I would be lying if I said I had no regrets, however these feelings were not powerful enough to make me reconsider this decision."
Justin Vaughan, the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said he understood Oram's decision. "Jacob has made a tremendous contribution to our Test team over the past seven seasons, and his experience will be missed," Vaughan said. "But we fully understand the difficulties he's faced with injuries and we hope this decision will help him prolong his playing career with the Black Caps."