Thursday, July 25, 2024

NZC: Gloves off – Ben Horne announces retirement

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Photo Credit: Auckland Cricket

After a successful career spanning seven seasons, former New Zealand Under 19 rep and Auckland Aces wicketkeeper/batsman Ben Horne has announced his retirement from professional cricket.

At 29, ‘Hornet’ has been a mainstay in the Aces’ line-up in all three formats since breaking into the starting XI at the end of 2016.

His nimble wicketkeeping and hard-hitting right-hand batting has been integral to his team’s success in recent seasons, including winning both The Ford Trophy and Plunket Shield in 2021/22. Horne’s 23 dismissals in the 2018/19 Ford Trophy also set a new benchmark for Auckland keepers as a season record.

“I’m proud to look back on my career and some of the things we’ve accomplished, but more importantly to me, some of the people who I did it with,” said Horne.

“I’ve been playing cricket with some of the guys for over a decade, can call a lot of them my closest mates, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Auckland Cricket’s Director of Performance and Talent, Daniel Archer said Horne’s energy and commitment rubbed off on his teammates on and off the field.

“We are extremely grateful to Ben for all his efforts and commitment during his time in blue,” said Archer.

“A high-energy player and individual, Ben has provided so many memorable moments in a career that he should be extremely proud of.”

Coach Doug Watson (currently coaching Scotland men at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe) wished Horne all the best for his future endeavours and said his experience and sense of humour will be missed.

“Ben has been a wonderful servant to Auckland Cricket, he always trained and played with energy, enthusiasm and commitment. I will miss Ben, he is a good man,” said Watson.

Horne’s bowler/wicketkeeper partnership with spinner Will Somerville, including bear-hug celebrations and Horne’s coining of Somerville’s nickname ‘Dad’, has been a favourite among fans tuning into Dream11 Super Smash over the last few seasons.

Horne’s post-season retirement announcement means the pair fittingly played alongside each other to the end, with the now-retired Somerville and Horne’s last match having been at Saxton Oval, Nelson in the last Plunket Shield match of the 2022/23 season in April – a match in which Horne was Auckland’s captain.

“Huge thanks must go to my partner Laura, and my parents for their unwavering support throughout, and of course my Aces teammates,” Horne added. “It’s been a great ride, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

The son of former BLACKCAPS and Auckland Aces representative Phil Horne and Lynne Horne – both of whom represented New Zealand at badminton at the Commonwealth Games; nephew of former BLACKCAP Matt Horne; and grandson of New Zealand high jumper and 1950 Empire Games bronze medallist Noelene Horne (née Swinton), sporting acumen runs rife in the Horne genes.

Auckland-raised, he was a standout young player in the New Zealand Under 19s in 2021 and 2022 before breaking into the Auckland Aces in 2016/17.

He would go on to amass 2,140 runs from 50 matches in first-class cricket for the team at a 31.94 average, including three centuries – the most recent, a knock of 137, against the Otago Volts in March this year. His 162 career best also came against the Volts, two seasons earlier.

As a keeper, he was responsible for 170 dismissals in the Plunket Shield. His nine dismissals in one match against the Central Stags in 2018/19 is an Auckland first-class record.

In List A one-day cricket, he played 56 matches for the Aces and hit 1,140 runs, including a century, at a 27.10 average, with 69 dismissals.

And he stood out in the T20 format, where his powerful strike rate of 136 often gave the Auckland middle order impetus: 635 career runs and 42 dismissals with the gloves from 48 appearances, 46 of which came in the Dream11 Super Smash.

Also professing to be a left-arm orthodox bowler, occasionally Horne popped out from behind the stumps for a memorable turn at the bowling crease, taking his sole first-class wicket – that of Otago Volt Jacob Duffy – in his only over in the first-class game, returning 1-4 at Molyneux Park in March this year.

He had also unleashed his inner spinner in the Dream11 Super Smash with a career-best of 2/46 in 2017/18 and 1/20 in 2016/17.

Horne is currently stationed in the United Kingdom where he is representing Wolverhampton Cricket Club.

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