New Zealand cricketer Eric Austin will call time on a magnificent English adventure this weekend after 18 years in the Central Yorkshire League.
Austin will play his final game for Birstall away to Wakefield Thornes this Saturday before returning to New Zealand early next week.
Austin has become one of the most popular figures on the CYL scene but believes the time is right to return home.
Austin said: “I’m married with two young kids, a three-year-old and an 18-month-old, and I feel now is the right time to return to New Zealand.
“I have spent 18 years living in England, that’s almost half my life, and it will be difficult to leave my friends and I will certainly miss the Yorkshire accents when I go back home.
“I have met so many friends while I have been here but if ever they are over my way in New Zealand they will have a friendly face they can come and see.”
Austin arrived in England in 1998 as Birstall’s overseas player and he went on to play for Mirfield Parish Cavaliers, Scholes and two spells with the all conquering Wrenthorpe side between 2007-2012.
Austin said: “I first came over as a 24-year-old to play league cricket in England and it was a real eye opener firstly with Birstall and then with various other clubs.
“I had seven years, in two spells, at Wrenthorpe and played with some really talented cricketers.
“To win the Heavy Woollen Cup fours years running with Wrenthorpe was special and we also won various other league and cup titles and there were some real highlights.
“I have been lucky enough to have played with some excellent players.
“I still rate Paul Blakeley as the best English league cricketer I have played with but you had the likes of Gary Fellows, David Paynter, Greg Battye and Joe Ellis when I was at Wrenthorpe.
“We were blessed with a very good team which, on paper, could have probably have given a county second team a good game and there was an expectancy on us to win titles.
“When I first came over, I coached a young Chris Brice and he has gone on to become a fine player.”
Austin passed the 1,000 league run milestone on three occasions but while the 41-year-old is not one big on statistics, there is one further milestone within his grasp.
Austin requires 98 runs away to Thornes to reach the magnificent figure of 12,000 Central Yorkshire League runs, which would be a phenomenal achievement .
Austin added: “As an overseas player, reaching 1,000 league runs was the benchmark for a season.
“I’m also very proud to still have the record individual score at Birstall of 179 not out and I think Paul Blakeley might be a bit too old to break that now,” he joked.
“Winning man-of-the-match in a Heavy Woollen Cup final and in the Jack Hampshire when Mirfield Parish beat Buttershaw St Pauls are also two of my highlights.
“I need 100 runs on Saturday to reach 12,000 league runs – so there’s no pressure.
“I don’t know where that figure stands amongst other players but I’m happy with what I have done, if you add in the cup cricket, I have probably scored something like 15,000 runs during my time in England.”
It is fitting that Eric Austin will play his final game in England with the club where he started his career 18 years ago when Birstall travel to Wakefield Thornes on Saturday.
He added: “I just hope it doesn’t rain for my final match on Saturday, although I recall my first game here in England was snowed off, so you never know with the weather.”
Austin amassed 4,033 runs during two spells at Wrenthorpe (2001 and 2007-2012).