Arnel pulls plug on illustrious career
BY COLIN THORSEN AND ANDREA FRIAR
Pace bowler Brent Arnel has announced his departure from Northern District’s first class cricket team after an illustrious career.
The former teacher at Te Awamutu College is currently exploring his options, with coaching at front of mind having been part of the coaching team for Cricket Wellington to which he transferred in 2013.
Although he had played for a Northern Districts primary school rep team, Arnel was a late developer — he did not gain selection in any other Northern Districts age group teams.
A product of Counties Manukau, he emerged on the Northern Districts’ scene after strong performances for that district association at senior representative level.
In 2001 he was selected in the Northern Districts squad and debuted in the Max Cricket competition, the predecessor of today’s T20 format.
He starred in the Max Cricket game between the Northern Knights and Auckland Aces held at Te Awamutu College.
It was a family reunion for Arnel. Watching the game was his maternal grandmother Jean Pedersen and her husband George of Te Awamutu who have since passed away.
Arnel was the Knights’ most successful bowler, claiming four wickets, including figures of 3-9 in the first innings.
His father, Robert, played cricket for St Pat’s in the mid1980s and owned a shoe shop in Te Awamutu.
Arnel was then selected to attend the New Zealand Academy, a live in programme for potential Black Caps based at the NZ Cricket High Performance Centre at Lincoln University. Unfortunately his time in that programme saw him suffer serious stress fracture injuries that could have curtailed his career. Showing great resolve, he played the following seasons as a batsman only in Hamilton club cricket, rehabilitating so he could make a return to top level.
He made his first class debut for Northern Districts in 2006 aged 27. He quickly showed his talent and in 2007/08 took the most wickets in the Plunket Shield (33).
His consistency caught the eye of Black Caps selectors and he was selected for six tests for New Zealand, his first against Australia in 2010.
Named the Player of the Year for ND for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, Arnel’s impact is shown in his impressive NZ domestic wicket haul of 567 across the three formats, including 15 five wicket bags.
Arnel returned to his home team last season and Peter Zanzottera, ND’s director of high performance programmes, acknowledges the contribution Arnel brought over his career.
“Brent leaves the playing arena as one of Northern Districts’ best and most consistent performers. We were pleased to be able to bring him back last season to where it all began and, as usual, his contributions on and off the park in 2017/18 were excellent. We thank him for his many years of service and wish Brent, Jenna and family all the very best for life after cricket.”
Looking back on his journey, Arnel acknowledges those who played a part in his cricket career by saying: “After a fulfilling career I have decided it is time to hang up my boots. There are many individuals along the way who guided, supported and encouraged me through my accomplishments.
To you I owe a debt of thanks. Thank you to all the coaches and top men I played alongside. I am very proud to have represented my country and was fortunate to play with and against the best players this country has on offer and around the world.
“A special mention goes to my wife Jenna and our two young kids, Zavier and Avery, whose support and understanding means so much to me.
“Thank you to Cricket Wellington for the opportunity to spark my coaching passion while still playing.
“A huge thanks goes to Northern Districts Cricket for allowing me the privilege of finishing my playing career where it all began and where I learnt so much about the game I love. Cricket has given me so much and my hope is to be able to give back to the game in other areas.”
New Zealand’s Brent Arnel celebrates the wicket lbw of Australia’s Simon Katch for 79 on the first day of the first International cricket test, Basin Reserve, Wellington, on Friday, March 19, 2010.