Why Trent Boult stepped away from International Cricket?

Trent Boult
Photo: Twitter/ESPNcricinfo

Trent Boult is arguably the best all-format fast bowler in this era, with Jasprit Bhumra and Shaheen Afridi. He is only 33 years old and has enough gas left in the tank to reach the coveted 400 wickets landmark in test cricket. However, he chose to give up that dream in order to spend more time with his family and make himself available for T20 leagues across the globe.

Boult had been in touch with New Zealand Cricket (NZC) for some time before his big announcement on Wednesday. He asked NZC to release him from his central contract so that he could spend more time with his family and make himself available for T20 leagues. NZC has complied with the fast bowler’s request and has granted his release, which “significantly reduced” his chances to represent New Zealand in international cricket. He will, however, complete the ongoing tour of the West Indies and is highly likely to be selected for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

“This has been a really tough decision for me and I’d like to thank NZC for their support in getting to this point,” Boult said. “Playing cricket for my country was a childhood dream and I’m so proud of everything I’ve been able to achieve with the Black Caps over the past 12 years.”

He further added, “Ultimately this decision is about my wife Gert and our three young boys. The family has always been the biggest motivator for me and I feel comfortable with putting it first and preparing ourselves for life after cricket.”

Trent Boult has been taking time off every now and then, to be with his family and deal with injuries. However, his recent decision is motivated by the financial security provided by T20 Leagues, where he can spend time with his family while making good money in quick time.

NZC released a statement explaining that Boult had made it clear to NZC chief executive David White that his appetite for touring had diminished and he wished to spend more time with his family.

Boult has not retired from international cricket but he is likely to play a lot less for New Zealand. White confirmed that Boult was aware of the ramifications of his decision and that NZC would prioritize contracted players.

“We’ve had several conversations and I know Trent understands that, in terms of selection, NZC will continue to make a priority of those players with either central or domestic contracts,” White said.

33 years old fast bowler also acknowledge that his decision would certainly affect his future selection for New Zealand.

“I still have a big desire to represent my country and feel I have the skills to deliver at the international level,” he said. “However, I respect the fact that not having a national contract will affect my chances of selection.”

Trent Boult has played 78 Tests, 93 ODIs, and 44 T20Is, taking 317, 169, and 63 wickets respectively. He has won the inaugural World Test Championship, while he was part of the runners-up side in the ODI World Cups of 2015 and 2019, and T20 World Cup 2021. In an ideal world, with age, form, and fitness on his side, he could have given a shot to play for another three or four years to play 100 Tests and pick 400 wickets, joining Sir Richard Hadlee, the only New Zealander to pick 400 test wickets. However, he chose to prolong his T20 franchise cricket career, while spending significant time with his family. He is expected to join one of the new T20 leagues in either the UAE or South Africa.

The plethora of T20 leagues in this era has affected international cricket in a big way, with players like Ben Stokes and Trent Boult stepping away from one format or another. There have been cases of players taking early retirement to give more time to T20 leagues, than hectic international tours.

In a T20 league, a player can generate more money than the value of the central contract in a month or two that a league season lasts, have a stable base from which to travel with your family and enjoy a more entertaining experience overall. With T20 leagues stacking the annual calendar, more players will likely step away from international cricket citing workload balance in near future.

The ICC stands awkwardly in the middle of this disastrous situation, trying to spread cricket as fairly as possible while being constrained by the decision-making member boards that seek to maximize profits with more T20 leagues. Although that may not be what the boards or ICC want to hear, the cricket schedule is rapidly approaching its limit.