Ireland have lost the first member of their World Cup squad with the retirement of Andre Botha.
The 35-year-old South-African born all-rounder — the second oldest behind Trent Johnston — played only two of Ireland’s six games in Bangladesh and India because of injury and illness. His 141-match international career finished against West Indies, just as it started 10 years ago with a duck.
Botha is also currently without a team, having decided to leave North County in search of a club who will compensate him for the loss of an Ireland contract. He is expected to join Terenure.
Explaining his decision to call it a day, Botha, who has played only nine of Ireland’s last 28 games, said: “It’s a matter I haven’t taken lightly, but sometimes your body makes up your mind for you.
“I would like to thank the current coach, Phil Simmons, for his support and help over the last number of years and assistant coach Pete Johnston for all his hard work. That’s not to forget my two best friends in Irish cricket, physios Knoxy (Iain Knox) and Kieran (O’Reilly).”
He also had a special mention for Simmons’ predecessor as National Coach: “Adi Birrell was there at start of my international career and I will never have enough words to thank and praise this man for what he did for myself and Irish Cricket.
And in response, Birrell paid his own tribute to Botha yesterday.
“I had the great good fortune that Andre had completed his qualification terms when I arrived and he became one of the major players around whom I built the team during my tenure.
“His all-round ability was invaluable and he made many match-winning contributions. His ability to take care of the back end of the power plays and the partnership with Kyle McCallan in building pressure in the middle overs was crucial to our success. “He has been a colossal player for Ireland in the past decade,” said Birrell.
And Simmons, the man who selected him for his second World Cup campaign joined in the tributes to Botha.
He said: “His courage continuing to represent Ireland with the different injuries he’s endured over the last couple of years has been incredible, and shows just what a big heart he has.”
Unfortunately for the new kids hoping to replace Botha in the Ireland team, there is a ready-made replacement in former New Zealand Test player and current Gloucestershire county professional Hamish Marshall.
The batsman, an Irish passport holder, qualified to play for the Ireland team exactly four years after his last game for his native country in April 2007.
He will be available for selection for Ireland’s first games of the summer, the one-day internationals against Pakistan at Stormont on May 28 and 30.