Stalwart Birch retires from cricket

SIGNING OFF: Warriors seamer Andrew Birch has announced his retirement from cricket
SIGNING OFF: Warriors seamer Andrew Birch has announced his retirement from cricket

Seamer Andrew Birch on Tuesday called time on a career that spanned 15 years for the Warriors.

The 34-year-old said a coaching opportunity at Kingswood College in Makhanda and more family time were the main reasons for his decision.

Birch finishes his career as the leading wicket-taker for a Warriors seamer in all three formats of the game.

He played 99 first-class matches and took 330 wickets.

He also featured in 109 List A matches claiming 157 scalps and 84 T20 encounters which included 98 victims.

The figures are impressive but Birch will also be remembered for his dogged and undying determination.

A consummate professional, he was always willing to go the extra mile.

As a team player he would, as they say in cricket terms, run through brick walls for his colleagues.

“I’m extremely proud of my career.

“I enjoyed every moment. But I think the time is right,” Birch said on Tuesday.

“I’ve had an opportunity offered to me to coach and it was something I couldn’t turn down.  

“Also I was getting to a stage where I probably had one or two years left and I thought to push it one or two more years ... I’d rather finish while I’m still strong.”

“Another big thing is I’d like to spend more time with my kids.

“They are growing up very quickly.”

He said there were no regrets since making is debut for Eastern Province against Griquas in January,  2005.

“I have finished off the leading wicket-taker for the Warriors in all three formats as a seamer. [Spinner] Simon Harmer was the leading wicket-taker in four-day cricket but I’ve been the leading bowler in white-ball cricket for the Warriors in T20s and 50 overs.

“I’m extremely proud of that achievement,” the right-arm seamer said.

During the better part of two decades, Birch also played for the Dhaka Dynamites, SA A, SA Academy, SA U19, Tshwane Spartans and a University Sports SA XI.

He said there were many fond memories.

“I’ll always remember one of my first T20 games I played for the Warriors at St George’s, where I cleaned up the Titans and also representing SA A would be right up there as my highest achievement.

“Also playing for Dhaka in their premier league two years ago and representing the Spartans in T20 competition. There are a lot of highlights.”

Birch also praised his teammates for their involvement and support throughout his career.

“I spoke to them at the beginning of the One-Day competition and it was [an] extremely emotional moment for me.

“If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t have had a career like I did.

“The camaraderie, the friendships with teammates and opposition throughout SA and the world.

“In the last few years, we’ve had a really tight-knit group of players and we’ve played unbelievable cricket.”

He now plans to coach Kingswood cricketers as well as establishing a development programme.

“I’m starting at Kingswood in their cricket programme as a coach with Murray Ranger (former Warriors and Border).

“I also want to run a development programme from there through Kingswood and Rhodes.

“The facilities at Kingswood are second to none and it’s a great opportunity to get that started.

“That will be running by either September or early next year.”

“Kingswood have already got a school that’s involved with them.

“I want to uplift that community and uplift their coaches,” Birch, who is fluent in isiXhosa, said.