Kyle McCallan, the Ireland off-spinning allrounder, has retired from international cricket at the age of 34 to spend more time with his family. McCallan is Ireland's most-capped cricketer, playing 226 times and captaining on a record 54 occasions but feels that it's the right time in his life to step down.
"It's actually a combination of a few things, which when added together makes me feel it's the right time for me to call it a day. There are family matters to consider as playing international cricket with the increased schedule over the past number of years has required an incredible effort. I've been playing at international level for Ireland for a long time, and I just don't feel able to commit to that anymore."
"I've got to think of my time after cricket, and I've now reached the stage where my career in teaching and my family have to take priority. I could have gone on for a while yet, but with the World Cup just 15 months away, that wouldn't have been fair on Phil (Simmons), and the rest of the squad."
His 3616 runs at 23.33 places him third on the all-time list of highest run-scorers for his country behind Stephen Warke and Ivan Anderson. The first of his two centuries came against the MCC, aged 20, in only his second game. Like many spinners his bowling developed with age and he finished with 256 wickets, third behind Dermott Monteith and Jimmy Boucher in the list of all-time Irish wicket-takers.
McCallan played 39 ODIs for Ireland and rates the performance in the West Indies, where Ireland reached the Super Eights after beating Pakistan in the group stages, as the highlight of his career. "It's been an incredible privilege and honour to have worn the Irish jersey over the past 13 years, and I've made some wonderful friends and have memories which I'll cherish," he said.
"The 2007 World Cup in the West Indies will be an abiding one, when we announced ourselves on the world stage. I've been fortunate to have played with and against some wonderful cricketers, but if I had to single out one, it would be Brian Lara who was just simply a league above anybody else."
Phil Simmons, the Ireland coach, feels that McCallan's dedication and experience will be missed as Ireland build toward the 2011 World Cup. "It's a huge loss for Irish cricket both on and off the field. Not only is he a wonderful cricketer, but he's been a superb ambassador for his sport. It won't be easy to replace such a talent, especially with his experience and discipline," he said.
"He's been a fantastic role model, and is a credit to Ireland with his dedication and commitment over a long period of time. I thought his bowling was just getting better and better, which comes with the experience of 226 caps, and it's tough to lose that. I'd hoped to persuade him to stay on, but I appreciate his reasons for retiring, and wish him and his family all the best."
Arthur Vincent, president of Cricket Ireland, echoed Simmons, highlighting the positive and committed attitude McCallan displayed throughout his career. "It's been an honour to have followed the career of Kyle McCallan. I was there watching when he scored his first hundred at Malahide in just his second game, and was also there in his last match, when we lost by just three runs against England," he said.
"There have been many highs and lows during that time, but Kyle always had a smile on his face, and had just the most wonderful attitude to the game, never more so than during the ICC Trophy in 1997, when he didn't play in a single match, yet remained committed and positive.
"He's been a great example to others, and has always conducted himself in the best possible manner. Kyle will always be regarded as synonymous with Ireland's coming of age in the modern game, having served with distinction under Hendrick, Rutherford, Birrell and Simmons, as we made the journey to the top table and Irish cricket will forever hold a special place for him.
"Always articulate and a joy to be associated with, I can think of no better ambassador for Irish cricket. I wish him and his family a very happy retirement - he fully deserves it."