It's the end of an era for Northern Districts Cricket with accomplished senior player James Marshall today pulling stumps on a 16-year representative career.
Captain of the SKYCITY Northern Knights' Ford Trophy squad for the past two seasons and previously captain in all three formats, the seldom-injured Marshall missed the team's final four matches this summer with a calf strain, but the injury played no part in the announcement that he is retiring from all cricket.
"These are never easy decisions to make and after 16 years it's going to be a big change for me," Marshall said. "But it's the logical one for myself and my family at this point in my life. Having done a 44-day stint away from home this season, my wife looking after our young son, it was time for me to re-evaluate.
"I'm also excited to have accepted a full-time career opportunity with Barfoot & Thompson Commercial in Auckland.
"Barfoot & Thompson Commercial have undertaken to support me in my transition away from professional cricket and, putting all those factors together, I just felt it was a nice time to retire. It's been 16 amazing years, with quite a few trophies in recent seasons, and at 34 I'm very satisfied with what I have achieved."
The young right-hand batsman who made his first-class debut for the Knights as a Northland teenager in the 1997/98 season would go on to break the side's most prestigious batting and appearance records.
This season he became the first man in Northern Districts' history to score 6000 first-class runs and also claimed his 100th first-class field catch for the side, a tally rarely achieved. He is the Knights' leading all-time one-day batsman, too, with 3,755 domestic career runs.
Marshall holds the New Zealand record for the most first-class appearances by any domestic player for a single province, having broken Evan Gray's long-standing mark of 120 matches for Wellington when the Knights played the Canterbury Wizards at Seddon Park this summer. He finishes with a record 126 appearances for Northern Districts in the Plunket Shield.
Marshall represented the BLACKCAPS from 2005 to 2008, playing seven Tests, 10 One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals, scoring 161 against Ireland in his final One-Day International appearance for New Zealand.
He counts playing his first Test match with twin brother Hamish as one of the "major highlights" of his career, "but so too is simply the time I have enjoyed with the Knights over the years. Not only the cricket, but the people I have worked with and played alongside in that time.
"Northern Districts is a fantastic organisation and it's where I learned many of the skills I will take forward into my life after cricket."
SKYCITY Northern Knights head coach Grant Bradburn said he was not surprised that Marshall had been snapped up by such a high-profile New Zealand company.
"James is a strong communicator and astute leader who leaves an outstanding legacy for the Knights. From a cricketing point of view he's been an effective and intelligent batsman, offered a ton of experience to the team and clearly is one of the best runners between the wickets that we have seen in the game. And he will be remembered as an outstanding fieldsman - especially in the inner circle where he leads the way and is deadly accurate in hitting the stumps.
"He has driven our fielding standards, leading by example and by his own work ethic, while his captaincy record speaks for itself. He can be hugely proud not only of his contribution to Northern Districts cricket and the records that he holds, but the high regard in which I know he is held by cricketers throughout the country."
Northern Districts Cricket CEO Peter Roach congratulated Marshall on an exemplary career. "James is one of the leading players of his generation," Roach said. 'We will miss him after such a long and loyal association with Northern Districts and we wish him all the very best in his new career."