Justin Langer, the highest run scorer in Western Australia's history, will begin his last game for the state this week after announcing his retirement from first-class cricket in Australia. Langer will farewell the WACA crowd in a Pura Cup match against Tasmania starting on Friday.
However, he will continue to make his retirement a staggered process by playing on for Somerset in England's county competition this year and then taking part in the Indian Premier League for the following two seasons. Langer, 37, quit state one-day cricket last month, more than a year after ending his Test career following Australia's Ashes triumph.
Langer was a fixture of Western Australia teams since his debut in December 1991 and later that season he announced himself as a player to watch, making 149 in the Sheffield Shield final win over New South Wales. It was the first of two Sheffield Shield-winning sides he would play in, and he also captained Western Australia to a one-day triumph in 1999-2000.
He remained a valuable Pura Cup contributor this season and scored 616 runs at 41.06, however he said he knew the time had come to give the game away. "It is probably no surprise," Langer told AAP. "It is a really sad thing for me to say and it is probably a tougher decision that when I retired from Test cricket.
"At least when I retired from Australia a year ago I still knew I had time to play cricket. But when I got out [in the Pura Cup game against Victoria] the other day I did not get angry, I did not throw my bat. I knew it was time to retire."
With one match left in his state career, Langer has so far played 117 first-class matches for Western Australia and has scored 9797 runs at 50.76, placing him first on the team's all-time list. Graeme Wood, the Western Australian Cricket Association's (WACA) chief executive officer, said Langer always gave 100% regardless of whether he was playing Test, state or club cricket.
"From a playing perspective he was the best batsman to come out of this state with an outstanding record in all levels of cricket," Wood said. "His preparation was outstanding and a lesson for all cricketers, as was his desire and hunger to succeed."
Wood hoped Langer would stay involved with cricket in Western Australia, perhaps in a high-performance role or in future years as a WACA board member. Tom Moody, the Western Australia coach, said Langer's state record put him among the greats of the game.
"He has produced phenomenal feats on the field over 17 years at first-class level and has been the ultimate professional and role model to aspiring cricketers," Moody said. "Players of Justin's calibre come along rarely, and it has been a pleasure to have played alongside him in successful Western Australian teams, and also to have been involved this year as his coach."
Langer's farewell at the WACA will also be the last first-class match in Australia for Michael Di Venuto, the Tasmania opener who is also retiring after a career spanning 17 seasons. Di Venuto enters the game in good form after making 144 against New South Wales earlier in the week.
Western Australia squad Chris Rogers, Justin Langer, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Marcus North (capt), Luke Pomersbach, Luke Ronchi (wk), Aaron Heal, Brett Dorey, Steve Magoffin, Ben Edmondson, Mathew Inness.
Tasmania squad Michael Di Venuto, Dane Anderson, Travis Birt, George Bailey, Daniel Marsh (capt), Luke Butterworth, Tim Paine (wk), Jason Krejza, Mark Divin, Brett Geeves, Ben Hilfenhaus, Chris Duval, Tim Macdonald.