Johannesburg: South Africa's Jonty Rhodes confirmed he was quitting international cricket on Friday, but told his fans not to feel sorry for him. The 33-year-old Rhodes, forced out of the World Cup because of a broken hand, said that he would be playing for Gloucestershire in the English county championship from April. "It's time to get back to the real world," said the player who broke a bone in his right hand in the World Cup match against Kenya in Potchefstroom on Wednesday. "Don't cry for me - I've had a great ride.
It is not quite the script I envisaged but I see it as a blessing that I have played in 245 One-day internationals and participated in four World Cups." South Africa's ace fielder said he had always planned to retire after the World Cup. "Unless something (injury) happens further down the line in the team, and hopefully that won't be the case, that'll be it," he said. Rhodes, 33, has signed a one-season contract to play for Gloucestershire but he said his first-class career in South Africa was over. He had told KwaZulu-Natal, his provincial team, that he would not be available next season. Rhodes, whose spectacular diving stops at backward point and brisk batting made him one of the world's most recognised cricketers, said injury was "part and parcel" of the game.
Although he had two pins inserted in the fifth metacarpal bone of his right hand after being injured against Kenya, he had hoped to be kept in the South African squad with a chance of playing in the later stages of the World Cup, but said he accepted the decision by the selectors that he should be replaced by Graeme Smith. "I was excited when the specialist told me the pins would be coming out in two-and-a- half weeks," he said. "It would be painful but there would be an opportunity to play.
But from the team's point of view the section is wide open and they couldn't afford to play an under- strength side in the hope that I would be ready by the Sri Lankan match on March 3." Rhodes said he was disappointed to be told by selection convenor Omar Henry that he would be replaced. "But if I was in his situation I would do exactly the same." Rhodes said Smith "should have been in the squad anyway" and he expected him to be an important player in the team. "I'm expecting big things from Graeme. He adds a lot to the team on and off the field."
Although Smith does not field in the same position, Rhodes expected him to take over his role of shouting encouragement to the rest of the players. "He's got a big voice." He did not envisage playing any formal role in cricket after his retirement. "I'll encourage as many kids as possible to play, I don't have the patience to be an umpire or the temperament to be a coach and I'm not a commentator."