Injuries force Barnes to give up game

Otago fast bowler Warren Barnes sends down a delivery during a Plunket Shield match against Auckland at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Watching are umpire Shaun Haig and Aces batsman Matt McEwan. Photo: Linda Robertson
Otago fast bowler Warren Barnes sends down a delivery during a Plunket Shield match against Auckland at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. Watching are umpire Shaun Haig and Aces batsman Matt McEwan. Photo: Linda Robertson
Otago speedster Warren Barnes has put in his final shift at the bowling crease for the Volts.

The 26-year-old has decided to take an indefinite break from cricket and will not be returning south next season.

The injury-prone right-armer said the constant battle with injuries had robbed him of his zest for bowling. He was also concerned about the long-term health effects.

''I think it was more just the enjoyment of bowling has slowly declined through all the injuries,'' Barnes said.

''I've had quite a lot of big injuries which I'll be stuck with.

''I don't want to be old and not able to do up my shoe laces.''

Barnes suffered his first major injury (a stress fracture in his back) when he was a teenager. Then there was a stress fracture in his right foot which has never really healed.

He ruptured a tendon in his right ankle. He has had muscle strains, dislocations and further back issues.

He was seemingly always between injuries and was robbed of more playing opportunities this season through a short illness.

''It will definitely be a complete break until it doesn't hurt to get up every morning,'' he said when asked if he would return to the sport at some stage.

''The goal is to take quite a bit of time out but I don't see myself - I don't want to predict the future or anything - but not at this time.''

Barnes moved south from Auckland four years ago and flourished during his first season for Otago.

He was nudging 140kmh when fit and could swing the ball late. He also had a tremendous yorker and a decent bouncer.

In his debut season for the Volts he was the joint leading wicket-taker in the twenty20 competition. He took 15 wickets at an average of 19 and a wonderful strike rate of 16.

Barnes appeared to have a bright future ahead but that future got derailed.

''Once you get an injury the whole restarting process can feel like you are going backwards rather than going forwards. A couple of those a season is pretty tough mentally.''

Barnes hit the headlines two years ago when he started wearing a mask while bowling in twenty20 games.

The custom-adapted face mask caught people's attention and Barnes had planned on introducing ''another prototype'' this season but never got the chance.

Barnes' plans are to move back home and work on his family's beef farm, which is about two hours' travel north of Auckland. But he will look back fondly at his time in Dunedin.

''The guys have been amazing and real supportive since day one. Being involved in that kind of team atmosphere was amazing.''

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