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.
Well done Dani! A great ambassador for England and County women’s cricket.
Let us hope the vacancy left by her in the England set up can be taken by yet another young player, similar to Sophie Ecclestone, Kirsty Gordon and the like.
LikeLiked by 1 person
She does indeed go with her head held high. I would say she managed to combine putting every effort into being the best she could be, and into trying to win matches for her team, along with never forgetting that she was very privileged to play do something many people would love to do for a living, and consequently enjoying just about every minute of it, even though there must have been some frustrating times along the way.
She goes back to 2009, as does my time watching England’s women, and she’s one of a band of players whose stories will be very interesting if they ever get told – bridging the “gap” from semi-pro to full-time, and all the changes that came with that.
She (along with Jenny Gunn) was the first England player I ever met and spoke to – briefly – at Worcester one night when they came to chat to the age group squads. She impressed me that night with her sense of fun – she knew how to relate to the 11 and 12 year-olds in the room.
Did she have a raw deal with England sometimes? Possibly, but strong competition from Laura Marsh meant only one of them was going to play in the vast majority of games. The irony is that Marsh’s retirement probably isn’t that far off either, and there doesn’t seem to be an off-spinner champing at the bit to take their place, unlike the left-arm department!
Good luck for the future, Dani!