England’s Dani Hazell has announced her retirement from international cricket, after a 141-match career in which she took 146 wickets and won two World Cup winner’s medals.
Ironically, the way she won those two medals rather summed-up her career – in 2009, she was in the squad but didn’t play at all in England’s victorious World Twenty20 campaign; and although she played 5 matches at the 2017 50-over World Cup, she was relegated to bench for the both the semi-final and final as England triumphed.
Despite having reached the dizzy summits of No. 1 in the ICC rankings for T20 bowling, Hazell was never able to hold down a long term place in the England side – a source of constant frustration for the player, who was rumoured to have considered quitting during the 2015 Women’s Ashes, after she was left out of the ODI team that summer for reasons that were only tangentially cricket-related. (The Australians, as documented in David Tossell’s Girls of Summer, couldn’t believe their luck at not having to face the one England spinner they really rated, as they went on to win the series by 10 points to 6.)
Hazell did play in the recent World Twenty20 final in the West Indies, and has just finished a reasonably successful stint with the Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL, taking 9 wickets in the season. But with England’s squad for the spring tour to India due to be announced shortly, the speculation will presumably be that she had once again lost her place and that this was the last straw for a player who never made a secret of the fact that she thought there was more to life than just playing for England, and wasn’t prepared to sacrifice her mental or physical health to do so, especially when she was sitting out half the time anyway.
Nonetheless, she should leave with her head held high, knowing that she will be remembered as a player good enough to have captained England on 2 occasions when Heather Knight was injured, and a bowler who the opposition always feared – perhaps the ultimate compliment the game can give.