He's not quite retiring yet - but Black Caps all-rounder Jacob Oram has made the first step towards pulling stumps on his cricketing career.
Yesterday, New Zealand Cricket announced that they and Oram had mutually agreed an early release from his Black Caps playing contract - which runs through to July 31 next year.
Oram - who last played for New Zealand in a one-day international against Sri Lanka in Pallekele on November 6 - told the Sunday Star-Times the decision to end his NZC contract early was a tough one, but one that had been coming for a while. Its motivation came from his age, and growing young family back home in New Zealand.
"Since Sri Lanka especially, I've been home for three or four weeks now, and I just thought to myself and took stock of where I was," Oram said.
"I said to myself, do I want to keep going for the rest of this contract year that goes through to August? After the South African tour, there is England home, England away, the Champions Trophy - it's a massive contract year.
"With the impending birth of my second child and just the way my body is now, even club cricket is taking it out of me.
"You've got the advent of Twenty20 leagues around the world and getting a few knocks on the door from that - you throw all that into the melting pot and my decision was clear, but still a very, very tough decision to make.
"While I haven't retired as such - and I want to stress that - it is a career move. It is a change to what I've only ever known in the last 12 years.
"It's a daunting decision, but I feel better now 24 or 48 hours after I made that call."
Since 2001, the lanky Central Districts all-rounder has played 33 tests, 160 one-dayers and 36 Twenty20 internationals in an often injury blighted career.
Recent years have seen Oram excel more at the shortest form of the game - which he said is set to become his focus over the next year.
His situation somewhat mirrors that of former Black Cap Scott Styris who, after retiring from the international game, has become something of a T20 league mercenary. Oram said he wouldn't play for as many different teams, preferring to spend more time with his young family in the coming year.
After playing out the HRV Cup with Central Districts over the next month, Oram will head to the Bangladeshi Premier League to play for the Chittagong Kings. Playing there will rule Oram out of a callup to the Black Caps for the upcoming England tour.
"It was time to pull back a little bit, and when you pull back, and can't commit 101 per cent to 12 months of New Zealand cricket, I thought it was wrong to take a contract when there was people out there more committed to it 12 months a year," Oram said.
NZC said another player will now be offered the veteran all-rounders' contract for the remainder of the contract period, likely to be decided over the next fortnight.
Oram maintained his decision was not motivated by the recent fallout at NZC due to the poorly handled sacking of Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor.
"Now was the time. The sun is out, it's Christmas time, and my family is only going to get bigger so I want to put them first now."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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