New Zealand leg-spinner Todd Astle has made himself unavailable for New Zealand A's first-class series against India A in Christchurch to shift his focus to white-ball cricket.
The 33-year-old, who made his Test debut in 2012, has only played five Tests over the course of eight years. He last played earlier this month against Australia in Sydney. In the five matches, he picked up seven wickets at 52.57 and scored 98 runs at 19.60.
Astle said he was finding it difficult to keep up the demanding preparations that are an integral part of the red-ball format.
Great cricketer and an even better bloke. Thrilled he will continue on with the white ball tho ❤️🖤 https://t.co/Yup7vmxRxo— Frances Mackay (@FrankieMac71) January 28, 2020
"Playing Test cricket was always the dream and I’m so honoured to have represented my country and province in the longest form of the game," he said. "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’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with Canterbury and the Black Caps. To have the opportunity to play a Test against Australia at the SCG was an experience I’ll always cherish," said Astle, who has played nine ODIs and three T20Is for New Zealand.
"I’m 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."
Red-ball cricket is the pinnacle, but also requires a huge amount of time and effort.
Astle has had a successful first-class career. Since his first-class debut in 2005, he has played 119 matches, scoring over 4000 runs and picking up 334 wickets at an average of 32.17. He is also Canterbury's highest first-class wicket-taker with 303 scalps.
New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen lavished praise on Astle calling him a Canterbury stalwart.
"Todd’s been an absolute stalwart for Canterbury in the Plunket Shield and his first-class record speaks for itself," Larsen said. "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.
"We appreciate this would have been a tough call for Todd and we absolutely support his proactive decision."
With Astle out of contention for New Zealand's two Tests against India, the selectors will have the option of choosing between Mitchell Santner, who did not play the Sydney Test, or bringing back Ajaz Patel for the series.
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