|Player:||NJ Astle, L Vincent, JG Bracewell, SP Fleming|
|Event:||Commonwealth Bank Series 2006/07|
DateLine: 1st February 2007
Veteran batsman Nathan Astle announced his retirement on Friday, shocking his New Zealand team-mates and further weakening their fragile batting line-up just weeks away from the World Cup. The 35-year-old, New Zealand's second most prolific one-day scorer behind skipper Stephen Fleming, said he was struggling with motivation for the tournament after patchy form in recent seasons. "I have been fighting this day for about eight months," Astle said in a statement. "I so desperately wanted to go to my fourth World Cup, but deep down inside I knew that I was lacking motivation and the enjoyment levels were just not there," he said. Astle said his enthusiasm first faltered last year but he soldiered on because of a desire to play in his fourth World Cup. But a month ago "it really started to hit home that this was no longer the place for me". Coach John Bracewell said the decision came out of the blue, describing Astle as a "great player and a great team player". "It was a bit of a shock to all of us and quite disruptive to our plans but I respect his decision," he said referring to New Zealand's build-up for the World Cup starting in March. "Timing's never great this close to a big tournament and Nathan was going to be a serious part of that because of his experience and the younger players he was assisting to mentor." The aggressive right-hander has been crucial to New Zealand's one-day success, scoring 16 centuries in 223 internationals, accumulating 7,090 runs at an average of 34.92. In 81 Tests he scored 4,702 test runs, including 11 centuries at an average of 37.02. Astle scored the world's fastest Test double century against England in Christchurch in 2002, thumping 222 off 153 balls. Starting his first class career as a medium pace bowler, he ended with 51 Test wickets and 99 one-day scalps. "Nath was a very uncomplicated, naturally aggressive player who was just great to watch," said captain Fleming, paying tribute to his team-mate. "He was also a great sounding board for me as a captain because of his calmness and consistency. He will be missed." Replacement batsman Lou Vincent was expected to join the New Zealand team in Perth Friday.