Former Middlesex player Ollie Rayner recently announced his retirement from the game. Rayner, played for Middlesex for eight seasons and was part of the successful 2016 side that won the County Championship.
I had the pleasure of catching up with the likeable 34-year-old recently who told me the decision to retire from the game was made easier by Middlesex. “The decision was made easier; it wasn’t an easy decision. “I would have liked to have played and extended my career at least for a couple of more years. “I was always quiet conservative with my estimates on playing, and that would have put that round to the 35 or 36 mark, as opposed to some people saying spinners go on forever”.
Rayner admitted it has been a difficult last two years for him. “Let’s be honest it’s been a tough couple of years for myself and the club. “Middlesex decided that they weren’t going to extend my contract. “There wasn’t an awful lot out there if I am honest and now I’ve got a young family to think about, relocating and things like that, and being a couple of years since we [Middlesex] won anything along with the pitches not really helping, and I’ve kind of got to a stage now where if I’m brutally honest people are looking for batters who can bowl a bit of tight off-spin, give them a few overs to help control seamers workloads and over rates, as opposed to out and out spinners.”
Ollie said it was no surprise to him when he received the news from Middlesex about his release. “ Unfortunately given the circumstances it wasn’t a shock as they loaned me out last year to Kent and the season before to Hampshire, and they made the decision to loan me out after two games even although I had done pretty well and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that they weren’t going to keep me on. “It’s a hard one because obviously I am upset with how it’s all kind off ended up after finishing my career at a club I wasn’t even affiliated with [Kent], but on the same side I’ve had some tough years. “I was finding it quite hard to enjoy my cricket at times and to have the opportunity to go somewhere, I did bow out of the game with a smile on my face again, as if I had seen out my career in the second team at Middlesex it would have been a bit more of a sorry state, so I owe a lot to Kent for that, although I was disappointed that they didn’t offer me a contract in the end having eluded to the fact that they were going to at the end of the season, but unfortunately things changed”.
On his time at Kent, Ollie found it hard. “It was very tough, I was a new dad and I was playing away from home a lot and having to put in the yards to get another contract, it was tough”. However, he was quick to point out how much he had enjoyed his years at Middlesex. “I have had a great time at Middlesex and I owe a lot to them and there has been times when it has been tough and they probably gave me more leeway than they should have done. “They will always be in my heart and it hasn’t been an ideal end to it all but there were some great times when we won the 2016 County Championship, that was brilliant.”
As regard what the future holds for Ollie, since his release from Middlesex he has been busy. “Having written off the thought of doing recruitment a few years ago thinking it wasn’t for me, an old contact arranged to meet me who was in recruitment and I went to meet him to ask him where I could fit in when he said to me why don’t you go and speak to my previous company that I worked with, and I thought well I might as well give it a go. “It suited my personality best at the time. “I’ve been doing this since the 6th January and I’ve quiet enjoyed it.”
As regards his decision to quit the game his wife Beth gave him some solid advice. “She told me to stop moping around and get on” with it he said. “She has been great.” I’ve been in some pretty dark places at times as a lot of cricketers have done, so you have to be resilient and my wife has been a big part of that as have my mum and dad, but Beth at times has been brutal with me and grabbed me by the shoulders and scruff of my neck and said you need to get out of this and I needed it, and I am really glad that she did this and I really owe a lot to her and my family”.