One of cricket's free spirits, Nathan Astle became a lively allrounder at Test and one-day level without losing his breezy confidence. He began at Canterbury as a no-account batsman and the most parsimonious of medium-paced bowlers, but his batting developed quickly. After becoming a free-scoring one-day player Astle was turned by the national coach Glenn Turner into a first-rate Test top-order batsman, with consecutive hundreds in West Indies in 1995-96. He ripped up the record books with his 222 against England, at Christchurch in 2001-02, which was the fastest double century in Tests, coming up off only 153 balls. A knee injury forced him out of action towards the end of 2003, but he was picked for the tour of England in 2004. Astle is now an assured batsman in both games, an expert slip-catcher, and an occasional medium-pace partnership-breaker. He may be a certain selection, but his laid-back attitude means he has never been considered for the captaincy, despite his seniority. His 10th Test match century was made against Sri Lanka in April 2005, followed soon after by his 11th. And in September, he became only the tenth man to score 15 ODI centuries, arguably becoming New Zealand's greatest one-day player. In 2006 he signed for Lancashire, although he wasn't at his ballistic best. He surprised most people by retiring from international cricket six weeks before the Word Cup, citing a lack of motivation. Six months later, he retired from first-class cricket as well.
Don Cameron July 2007