New Zealand spinner Todd Astle announces first-class retirement

New Zealand leg-spinner Todd Astle has announced his retirement from first-class cricket to focus on the limited-overs formats, ruling him out of the upcoming two-match unofficial Test series against India A starting January 30. The 33-year-old, who made his Test debut in 2012, played a mere five Tests for the national team, claiming seven wickets at 52.57. With the bat, he scored 98 runs at 19.60.

Astle, however, will sign off as the top First-Class wicket-taker for Canterbury, clinching 303 of his 334 wickets for the side.

“Playing Test cricket was always the dream and I am so honoured to have represented my country and province in the longest form of the game,” he was quoted as saying by the ICC.

New Zealand’s unofficial Tests against India A are scheduled to be played in Christchurch and Lincoln.

“Red-ball cricket is the pinnacle, but also requires a huge amount of time and effort. As I’ve got to the back end of my career I’ve found it harder to maintain the level of commitment required to be fully invested in this version of the game.

“I am excited to now focus all my energy into the white-ball formats, as well as give more time to my young family and new business,” he added. In his 119 first-class matches, Astle scored more than 4000 runs.

New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen lauded Astle and called him a Canterbury stalwart.

“To prepare and play four-day cricket at such a level for the best part of 15 seasons is a credit to him and his perseverance. His ability to turn the ball both ways and build pressure always made him a threat with the red-ball in hand,” he said.

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