World cricket’s leading one-day international (ODI) bowler has negotiated a release from his central contract. Trent Boult has been a star with the red and white ball for New Zealand for more than a decade but the 33-year-old has decided to take a step back from international cricket.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) reluctantly agreed to release Boult from his central contract, following a string of private conversations. David White, CEO, NZC, admitted that Boult would no longer be playing every game for the Black Caps, both home and away. White said that Boult had “struggled more than most” in recent years with teams forced into “isolation” on tour since early 2020. With “three young boys”, Boult is keen to explore “life after cricket”.
Although Boult’s passion for touring and playing overseas has diminished, with a desire to spend more time with his young family, the 31-year-old is sure to figure in the Black Caps’ squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia this October. It’s set to be one of the leading sports events in New Zealand to watch and wager on this year, particularly with the Black Caps one of the top four contenders to win the tournament. Winning it “Down Under” would also be a sweet way for Boult to consider bowing out of the shorter format of the game.
At the time of this announcement, Boult is currently with the Black Caps squad in the West Indies, as New Zealand embark on a white-ball warm-up tour of the Caribbean ahead of October’s T20 World Cup. Providing Boult’s form does not diminish, the 33-year-old is likely to remain a key figure in both the Test and ODI Black Caps side when playing on home soil. NZC chief White admitted the organisation had “tried to manage [Boult’s] workload” but it’s come to a point where it’s been “incredibly difficult to be away from home” for him.
It’s also true that Boult has almost achieved all there is to win in the sport. Aged 33, Boult has featured 78 times in the Black Caps Test side and appeared in 93 ODIs and 44 T20 internationals respectively. He’s not only a ODI and T20 World Cup runner-up, but he’s also a World Test Championship winner too. He’ll still have a target of 400 Test wickets in mind, which has only been achieved by one New Zealander in the past, the magnificent all-rounder Richard Hadlee.
When quizzed about the prospect of other Black Caps stars following Boult’s lead, White was quick to insist that the NZC has “had no approaches from anyone else” regarding their central contracts. White said that the rest of the Black Caps squad was fully focused and passionate about “performing for New Zealand”.
White also insisted that the only way players would get lucrative offers “from a big [domestic] league” is if they are a “successful international cricketer”.
While that may be the case, the Test and ODI scene needs to be firmly on its guard, particularly with domestic short-form schedules becoming increasingly full. Two new domestic T20 leagues are on the verge of launch, with the UAE T20 League likely to be the most intriguing prospect for Boult given that each team will be able to field up to nine overseas players per game.
Boult will also be a prime target for franchises in Australia’s Big Bash T20 League, given that he has never taken part in the tournament as it’s previously clashed with the Black Caps’ summer schedule.
Boult insisted he had lived “a childhood dream” by playing and excelling for his country. He acknowledged his “limited career span” as a fast bowler and said he was “comfortable” with the idea of putting his family first.
Cricket bodies worldwide will be keen to prevent this from becoming a tipping point, with England Test skipper Ben Stokes also taking the decision to cut his workload by retiring from the ODI format. When will these organisations realise that too much cricket is not always a good thing for the sport? Particularly if fans worldwide are robbed of the chance to see the best stars performing at their peak.