New Zealand's Todd Astle retires from all formats
After featuring in more than 300 domestic games and almost 20 internationals, he has called time on his playing career
Todd Astle, the New Zealand legspinner and Canterbury stalwart, has retired from professional cricket, aged 36, after the Super Smash final last Saturday. Astle had already ended his red-ball career in 2020 and focussed on only limited-overs cricket in the past two years.
"Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the experiences, the learning and the growing," Astle posted on Instagram. "Thanks for the adversity, the people and of course the incredible journey it has been.
"It's time to finish as a player after 18 seasons and I can't help but feel but feel so proud of what you've taught and given me. It certainly has been a roller coaster with twists and turns along the way, but that's what makes the game so rewarding. I finish still enjoying the game and loving my craft. What an honour it has been to represent NZ as a Blackcap, my beloved Canterbury and also club OBC [Old Boys Collegians]."
In his last tournament, Astle took 11 wickets in as many games in the Super Smash at an excellent economy rate of 6.70. With Matt Henry on the sidelines and Henry Shipley and Ish Sodhi away with the New Zealand side in India, Astle led Canterbury's attack, but they ended up losing their third successive Super Smash final. Astle picked up 1 for 30 in his four overs in the final in Christchurch, where everything began for him back in 2005, when Gary Stead, the current New Zealand head coach, was still playing for Canterbury.
Astle's international highlights include helping New Zealand qualify for the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final in 2021 with Stead and claiming 3 for 33 on ODI debut against West Indies in Whangarei in 2017. He was also part of the New Zealand T20 squad that reached its first-ever T20 World Cup final, in the UAE in 2021, though he played only the warm-ups in that tournament.
Astle made only sporadic appearances for New Zealand - 19 in all across nine years - but enjoyed a more prolific career for Canterbury, playing more than 300 domestic games. For someone who started his Under-19 and domestic career as a batter, Astle leaves as Canterbury's highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket with 334 strikes.
Astle had opened the batting alongside Martin Guptill for New Zealand in the 2005-06 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, where he emerged as the third-highest run-getter in the tournament behind India's Cheteshwar Pujara and England's Eoin Morgan, who had also retired earlier this week. But it was Astle's reinvention as a legspin-bowling allrounder transformed his career at Canterbury.
When fast bowler Chris Martin was called up to the New Zealand team in March 2010, Astle replaced him as a substitute and collected his maiden five-wicket haul on the fourth - and final - day to spin Canterbury to victory in Queenstown. From thereon, Astle took his bowling more seriously and was Canterbury's top wicket-taker when they won the Plunket Shield titles in 2010-11, 2013-14 and 2014-15. During those seasons, Astle especially thrived under Fulton's captaincy and when Fulton became head coach of Canterbury, he continued to use his wristspinner as an aggressive option.
Astle has also won the 50-over Ford Trophy, but the domestic T20 title kept eluding him and Canterbury. They haven't won it since 2005-06, when the inaugural edition of the competition was held. Astle had a chance to sign-off with that title, but Northern Districts spoiled what was his farewell at his home ground.
Astle became the second high-profile player at Canterbury to announce his retirement this season after Amy Satterthwaite.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo