Fitzpatrick retires after 16-year career

Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Australia's most prolific bowler in women's cricket, has retired after an international career that lasted 16 years. Fitzpatrick was widely regarded as the world's fastest female bowler and at her peak registered speeds of around 125kph.

Fitzpatrick, 39, has quit international and state cricket to concentrate on coaching but has not ruled out a playing-coach role at club level. She leaves the game as the world's leading ODI wicket-taker, with 180 dismissals at an outstanding average of 16.79.

She kept up her form until the end, starring with 2 for 27 from ten overs as Australia beat New Zealand in the final of the quadrangular series in India three weeks ago. Fitzpatrick said it was a difficult decision to retire but she was looking forward to staying involved in the game.

"You can't keep playing forever and there comes a point when you have to call it a day," she said. "There are only so many pre-seasons you can do. I've been coaching and playing simultaneously for a long time now and I'm about to finish my coaching scholarship with the Australian Sports Commission so the time is right for the next phase of my career.

"I'm prepared to entertain all possibilities and I haven't ruled out padding up in a playing-coaching role, but as far as Australian and Victorian duties are concerned, I'm done." Fitzpatrick said being a member of Australia's World Cup-winning sides in 1997 and 2005 were highlights but there were other moments she would remember fondly as well.

"The tour of England in 1998 held some special memories for me," she said. "We played at Lord's which is an amazing experience. We completed a whitewash against England but it was just the way we played that gave me great enjoyment and satisfaction."

Fitzpatrick sits second on Australia's list of Test wicket-takers, with 60 victims at 19.11. She was Australia's Women's International Cricketer of the Year in 2004 and also holds a number of records at state level.

Her 148 wickets are the best by any bowler in the Women's National Cricket League and the 25 she claimed in 2006-07 was the highest tally in a season. The most-capped WNCL player for Victoria, with 103 appearances, Fitzpatrick continued to dominate the state competition in her final season.

She was the Player of the Finals in January, in a losing Victoria team. Her remarkable 14 wickets in the three-match series included a six-wicket haul that featured a hat-trick in the second match.

James Sutherland, the CEO of Cricket Australia, said Fitzpatrick was a genuine superstar of women's cricket. "Cathryn Fitzpatrick has been in a league of her own as the world's premier female fast bowler for nearly two decades," Sutherland said.

"She, like many of the female players, has dedicated herself to cricket in the most professional way without the financial reward or high profile attention. She plays for the love of the game and we thank and congratulate her on an outstanding career and unheralded contribution to Australian cricket."

Lisa Sthalekar, her Australian team-mate, added: "She has been a great competitor now for so many years. It was tough playing against her and great playing with her. Yes, she'll be missed by us all."