Essex stalwart Graham Napier will retire from professional cricket at the end of the upcoming season.
The 36-year-old, who has represented his county 467 times across all formats since making his debut in 1997, will become director of the Graham Napier cricket academy at Royal Hospital School in September.
Napier, who was an unused member of England’s 2009 World Twenty20 squad, currently has 421 first-class wickets to his name at an average of 31.4, but it is perhaps his exploits with the bat which have provided his career highlights.
In 2008 he hit a world-record 16 sixes in a t20 match against Sussex on his way to 152 from 58 balls.
Three years later he equalled his own record in making 196 against Surrey from 130 deliveries in a County Championship match.
Congrats Napes. Great career. Waiheke Island awaits!! https://t.co/brxHXonlkE
— Scott Styris (@scottbstyris) January 11, 2016
Essex cricket committee chairman Ronnie Irani paid tribute to the all-rounder, saying: “Graham has had a fabulous career in all three formats of the game for us, and has been the very definition of loyalty over the past 19 years which is what Essex and its supporters are all about.
“We naturally wish Graham all the best with his next career move and he will be sorely missed.”
Napier added: “The opportunity at RHS is one that I could not turn down.
“I feel the time is right to move on, and give back to the game that has given me so much.
“I have loved every second of playing for Essex, and will be doing my best to make sure I retire with a bang at the end of the season.”
The Graham Napier cricket academy at the Royal Hospital School launches in September 2016 with the aim of establishing a high-profile centre of cricketing excellence which develops young cricketers to fulfil their potential, as well as promoting participation at all levels and ages, amongst both boys and girls at the school and in the wider community.
Could change games with both bat and ball. Most exciting cricketer to watch. Send him out on a high #ThankYouNapes https://t.co/LfGXJcQ340
— Jaik Mickleburgh (@JaikM32) January 11, 2016