Preston Mommsen Retires at 29 – Sad Indictment of ICC Cartel
Scotland Captain Preston Mommsen steps down and announces immediate retirement from International Cricket.
Neil Drysdale takes a look at a sportsman who’s criticisms of the ICC fell on deaf ears. Preston Mommsen was ICC Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year in 2014.
International sport can offer fame and fortune for a precious few.
Anybody who has looked at the Stakhanovite graft shown by Andy Murray in reaching the summit of the tennis world will appreciate the sacrifices and single-minded dedication shown by the Dunblane-born Scot.
Yet, for many others who strive their utmost to perform at their best, there are so many obstacles placed in their path that sometimes they seem insurmountable.
That, for me, is one of the lessons to be gleaned from the news that Preston Mommsen has retired from international cricket at the age of just 29 to pursue what he describes as an “attractive opportunity in the corporate world.”
No real shock in his decision
This shouldn’t be perceived as a surprise. Mommsen has never been a man you would associate with drunken pedalo rides or histrionics on the field.
He’s an intelligent man, blessed with plenty of ability and a tactical acumen which made him a canny skipper.
But, despite the confirmation of his departure being greeted with deserved tributes and plaudits from both team mates and rivals, there should also be an element of anger.
Because it’s difficult to envisage Mommsen would be exiting the sport at this stage if the ICC had created a proper pathway for the Associates across the globe, rather than perpetuating their small cartel.
After all, I met Mommsen at Mannofield this summer and we talked about life on the Intercontinental Cup trail.
The Grange player was in favour of some sort of European championship or at least the creation of a tournament which would offer the best players more meaningful matches.
Frustration was clear and visible for some time
He was clearly still in love with his game. But he was also frustrated at how his career had almost been placed on hold. He wanted more competition, greater focus, the chance to excel on the big stage.
But unfortunately, in the current ICC climate, that possibility seems very remote. Nor indeed is there any prospect of matters improving in the future.
At face value, it’s impressive that he featured in 42 one-day internationals and 24 Twenty20 internationals. But if you tot up how few of these have come since the 2015 World Cup, you can see the way the wind is blowing.
Since making his debut in 2010, the South Africa-born batsman led Scotland at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the 2016 World Twenty20 in India.
ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year
He scored two hundreds and six half-centuries in ODIs, where he averaged 32.38 with the bat, and was named ICC Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year in 2014.
His best form came in the 2014 World Cup qualifier in New Zealand, where he hit 520 runs at an average of 86.66 during the tournament, including 139 in Scotland’s victory over the United Arab Emirates in the final.
Preston Mommsen was also the first to captain Scotland to victory in a global tournament when they beat Hong Kong at the World T20.
But this year, his ambitions were restricted, along with the rest of the Scottish squad. One match against Afghanistan fell victim to the weather, as did the four-day I-Cup fixture with the UAE. The schedule isn’t any better in 2017.
Despite many protests about their decision, the ICC hasn’t been swayed from its decision to reduce the number of participants at the next global tournament in 2019. And the chances are that Scotland won’t be there.
A sad message has been sent to the next generation
Even if they are, it can’t be any fun for an aspiring cricketer to see how opportunities are gradually being whittled away.
But it’s still a damned shame that Preston Mommsen is being lost to cricket before he has even reached 30.
And it doesn’t exactly inspire any youngsters who might be tempted to pursue the same thankless path when the world’s governing body seems determined to slam the door shut in Scotland’s face.