Northants batsman David Sales has announced he will retire at the end of the season following his latest injury battle.
Sales has spent his entire playing career- spanning 18 years - at Wantage Road, but is calling it a day after he was recently ruled out again with ankle ligament damage, having slipped in the field.
A lynchpin of the dressing room, he has hit over 14,000 runs for the county over a course of 249 first class matches. The great tragedy of his career is that he was sidelined for so much of it, being tipped for England by his mid-20s, before a succession of knee injuries hit.
He made his debut in 1996 against Worcestershire, and despite a duck in his first innings, he went on to hit an incredible double century in the second.
That performance earned a call-up for England under-19s. He was later called up to the ‘England A’ tour of the West Indies, but failed to play a match after tearing knee ligaments playing volleyball, forcing him to miss the rest of that season.
Though he never reached the senior side, England’s loss was Northants’ gain, and by 2004, he was made captain, replacing outgoing Australia star Mike Hussey.
Plagued by injury
Few will be surprised by Sales’ exit from the Division One strugglers, regardless of him signing a new contract less than a year ago. In fact, he has been linked with retirement several times, but he made the right choice to carry on, becoming a key part of Northants’ promotion-winning squad last season.
He hit double centuries seven times for Northants, though in his later years he struggled to put in such performances on a regular basis.
End of an era
Sales has played under several coaches at the County Ground, and the current incumbent of that position David Ripley, who also played alongside the stalwart, hailed his contribution to the County Championship.
Ripley described his decision to step down as “the end of an era at Northants”, and called him “an international class batsman (with an) astute cricket brain."
Sales told the club’s official website, “I have had a fantastic time in cricket, but unfortunately picking up this serious ankle injury and to retire in this way is not how I planned it”.
Though the Steelbacks have gone a long way to replacing Sales in their middle order, it will nonetheless be a poignant moment at the end of the season when they wave goodbye to one of their biggest stars of the past twenty years.