Colin de Grandhomme announced his retirement from International Cricket becoming the third major player to retire from the national side in the past fourteen months. The bigger challenge for New Zealand is to ensure they make sure that young players are motivated and attracted to represent the country.
BJ Watling, Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme, three members of New Zealand’s World Test Championship winning team.Three quintessential members of arguably the best ever team which represented New Zealand (2014-2021) have hung up their boots in the space of 14 months. This could be a huge loss for any team but for a country like New Zealand which has a smaller player pool, the loss is even bigger.
New Zealand Cricket Board and team management should be appreciated with the way they had managed their players over the years. In fact, if there would have been an ICC award for the optimum or best utilization of their cricket resources New Zealand would have won that by a huge margin. West Indies was blown away by a storm of T20 Leagues, Zimbabwe by maligned administration and Bangladesh by its hollow cricket structure.
Among the smaller cricket nations, New Zealand have not only survived but they have thrived very well. They have been the most successful and consistent team at the global events. From 2015-2021, they have reached the Four Finals of ICC Tournaments, winning 1 and ending up runners up on 3 occasions. The bigger challenge awaits them; with the proliferation of numerous T20 leagues, the players have started opting for playing those. The idea being earning huge bucks in a shorter period of time.
While Watling, Taylor and Grandhomme had heartedly contested for New Zealand and retired after they turned 36 (Taylor was 38), the bigger challenge will now be to make sure that the younger players don’t go the West Indies way.
This means not sacrificing the national’s team interest over franchises.
Which is why perhaps the most burning question in front of cricket is one it is yet to fully attempt: does national representation today account for nothing?
Colin de Grandhomme was born in Zimbabwe in 1986. He grew up playing backyard cricket in an era when Cricket was blooming in Zimbabwe and the country had idols in Andy Flower and Heath Streak.
As a teenager, he dreamt of wearing the elusive Zimbabwe Test Cap and he was on the right track of realising his dream as he represented them in the U19 World Cup of 2003. However, the deteriorating situations in Zimbabwe led to the player revolt of 2004, which ultimately saw the big-hitting right hander to abandon his Zimbabwe dream.
In 2006, he landed in New Zealand with a new dream of playing cricket but for the Black Caps. It took him a long time to make his debut; he played his first match in 2012 against South Africa. He became a regular member with an impressive debut against Pakistan in 2016. This is where he picked career best 6-41 at Christchurch.
Colin de Grandhomme’s presence in the team gave New Zealand a much needed balance; he played his part with his seaming medium pace bowling which was more difficult to face than it looked. While his explosive batting ensured that the team had someone to bank at the latter end of the innings.
His hundred against West Indies at Basin Reserve in 2017 was evidence that he was matchwinner with the bat. His 120* against South Africa at Hagley Oval earlier this year against a high quality attack with the team filled a huge hole that the Blackcaps weren’t just top heavy.
Moreover, it was fine evidence that the cricketer who minded his own business and had nothing to do with shenanigans could score against anyone in any situation.
de Grandhomme was a very useful player in the One day Internationals as well. In the 2019 World Cup, he bowled an exceptional spell (10-2-25-1), which put tremendous pressure on England.
While de Grandhomme was an aggressive player, one may be surprised to see that he was more successful in Test Cricket than ODIs or T20Is, which suited his game slightly more. A prime reason may have been that while he was batting allrounder, Colin de Grandhomme used to get only a few deliveries by the time he walked in.
On the bowling front, he was more a defensive bowler than a wicket taking option in limited over games.
de Grandhomme ended with a career for which he can be happy about if not entirely ecstatic. He played in Two World Title finals, winning the ultimate one: “Test Championship”.
As he now walks away from the international game, he will be remembered as a crucial figure who ensured that his country’s flag flew high. That’s in an era where Williamson didn’t always make runs and Guptill, as one can see, isn’t what he used to be.
His role would be seen as that of a judicious customer who utilized both talents well and as best as he could have. Besides any other thing, whether the fact that BBL participation maybe overeats the national call of duty, maybe it just makes sense to celebrate how a boy from Zimbabwe became a renowned cricketer in New Zealand.