Wellington legend Woodcock to retire

Wellington Firebirds allrounder Luke Woodcock will retire from cricket at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old announced the decision to his Firebirds teammates following their Plunket Shield match against Otago on Tuesday, calling time on a career spanning 17 seasons.

“It just feels right at this stage to move on,” he said.

“You always get told that you’ll know when things are coming to an end and in all honesty, I never really believed that. But over the last six to nine months things have started to kick in around that final stage of my career and the decision not to play in the Ford Trophy this year was probably a sign it was time to call it a day.”

Known in Wellington cricketing circles as the ‘’Mayor of Johnsonville”, Woodcock began his cricket at the Johnsonville Cricket Club where he still holds the club runs (6334) and century (11) records.

He made his debut for Wellington in 2001 at the age of 19 and has racked up 384 appearances across all three formats for his home association, scoring 10,594 runs and taking 339 wickets.

In November 2017 he made his 128th first-class appearance for Wellington breaking the record for the most first-class appearances for one team by any player in New Zealand.

He lifted the four-day State Championship in 2004, the Ford Trophy in 2014 and two T20 championships in 2015 and 2017.

He made his international debut for the BLACKCAPS in a T20 international against Pakistan in 2010 and went on to play four ODIs and three international T20s for New Zealand, earning selection in the 2011 World Cup squad.

The veteran has played over 100 matches for Wellington in each of the three formats, a feat he admits is a highlight.

“To reach 100 games in all three formats is pretty special and won’t probably sink in until the season’s done, but I’m really proud of being able to do that for Wellington,” he said.

“Cricket Wellington means a lot to me and has been a big part of my life for the last 17 years and I can’t thank them and the Johnsonville Cricket Club enough for helping me have the career that I’ve had.”

Firebirds head coach Bruce Edgar said Woodcock has had an influence on all levels of cricket in Wellington.

“Woody’s impact on cricket in Wellington has been felt at local level all the way through to the Firebirds. He’s always been committed and passionate to play club cricket and be part of the community and he has represented our values strongly,” he said.

“He’s been a great giver to other people, not just himself, a lot of players have really looked up to him as a person and as a player, so he’s really epitomised everything we stand for.”

Fellow Wellington great Jeetan Patel acknowledged Woodcock’s presence within the Firebirds environment.

“The one thing with Woody is he just wants to contribute, he really just wants to put something in for a team result.

“Woody’s such a huge presence in our changing room, he connects really well with the younger guys and has a good connection with the older guys and I don’t think you can ever fully replace a character like that.

“As a cricketer he’s just been Luke Woodcock, he’s never been anyone else but himself and that’s quite special because he’s always had the abilities he’s got now, and he’s just enhanced it as he’s understood more and more about the game.”

Woodcock admitted he’ll miss the feeling of winning games of cricket with his mates amongst other things.

“Winning four-day matches is extremely difficult so it’s a pretty satisfying winning those. I’ll miss the banter too – I’ve copped a bit and given a bit in my time!”

Woodcock will make his final appearance for the Firebirds this Sunday when they take on Canterbury in their final match of the summer at the Basin Reserve. The first bowl will be bowled at 10.30am – entry is free.