Napier targets Essex swan song

Graham Napier is keen to go out with a bang this season after announcing that he plans to retire from cricket at the end of the 2016 campaign .

Napier will hang up his boots after what will be his 20th season representing Essex in order to become director of the Graham Napier Cricket Academy at Royal Hospital School in Suffolk.

The 36-year-old already has plenty to look back on from his time in the game, having smashed 152 in a T20 match against Sussex in 2008, won the Friends Provident Trophy in the same year, hit 196 against Surrey in 2011 and taken 7-32 – including four wickets in as many balls – against the same opposition two years later.

But Napier, who also won the Under-19 World Cup with England in 1998 and featured in the Indian Premier League in 2009, wants to create a few more memories before he calls it a day.

Graham Napier celebrates winning the 2008 Friends Provident Trophy with Essex, one of the all-rounder's career highlights

“I’ve known for a few weeks that I’ll be starting the role and retiring,” he told

“To finally get it out there and tell everyone has been quite nice.

“It was tough, but also not very tough, because the opportunity to work at the Royal Hospital School was too good to turn down after so many years of playing cricket.

“It’s getting harder now to keep up with the youngsters now, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer.

“I still feel I’m more than capable of producing the goods for Essex, and like every season we set out our aims to go out there and aim to win trophies and get promotion.

“I think I’ve always strived to do well in the four-game and having never won the t20 blast it would be nice to do that as well.

“It’s no different to any other season except at the end of the year I’ll be hanging up my boots.”

Having been a key component of the Essex side since making his debut in 1997, Napier’s loss is likely to be keenly felt at Chelmsford.

But the seam-bowling all-rounder insists new head coach Chris Silverwood has plenty of young talent at his disposal – and he hopes to provide some more once his new career starts.

“It’s extremely exciting to see the way the youth system is working producing cricketers coming through,” he added.

Dan Lawrence has been with England Under-19s, you’ve got a young lad Aaron Beard who is potentially going to be around the under-19s as well, and then you’ve got Tom Westley – all products of Essex cricket.

“It’s just a great time for the club with the prospects for the future.

“The most recent product of the school is Reece Topley, who’s now in the England set-up.

“It would be great to be able to produce a player – if not lots of players – just like Reece.

“From a coaching aspect I think that’s what you’re looking to achieve – players who can go on and play at the highest of levels.”

Napier was selected for England’s 2009 World Twenty20 squad, but did not make the starting XI.

Despite that, he insists he has no regrets, adding: “How can you have regrets when you get paid to do a job you love?

“I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to play this long doing something that I love so much.

“The 152, the Lord’s final in 2008 – winning that – the 4-4 at Chelmsford and my personal highlight was being able to remove Ricky Ponting’s middle stump.

“All my memories of playing for Essex are fantastic and I cherish them – it would be impossible to have any regrets in my career.”

Source: ECB

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