Somerset seamer Steve Kirby, who has been involved in county cricket for 20 years, has been forced to retire with immediate effect because of a shoulder injury.
Last winter the 36-year-old underwent surgery on his right shoulder and, although there was a slight improvement, he was injured a few weeks ago while playing in a second team game and has no option but to call it a day.
Kirby started his playing career when he left school at the age of 16, initially on a YTS scheme at Leicestershire where he joined the staff in 1998.
He then moved to Yorkshire, making his debut in 2001. He played a significant part in winning the County Championship, Yorkshire’s first for 33 years.
That winter Kirby was selected to be part of the first England Academy and further represented England Lions on many more overseas tours.
Two seasons later he came to the attention of Somerset when he took 5-74 in the first innings and followed up with a career-best of 8-80 at Taunton to bowl the visitors to victory.
Kirby joined Gloucestershire in 2005 and enjoyed six seasons there before signing for Somerset before the 2011 campaign.
His best season was in 2011 when he took 53 wickets, including his Somerset-best of 6-115 against Lancashire, the county of his birth.
Since joining Somerset, Kirby has played in 35 first-class matches in which he has bowled almost 1,000 overs and taken 103 wickets at an average of 32.23. He has also been a key member of the limited-overs teams, claiming 45 List A wickets at 22.2 and 34 Twenty20 scalps at 25.74.
He also appeared in two finals and was part of the Champions League side that were semi-finalists in 2011.
Kirby said: “It has come as a real blow to me to have to retire from the game that I have been involved with for the past 20 years of my life.
“It's been a difficult winter having gone through two operations. Dealing with setbacks is always part of professional sport but sometimes no matter how hard you try to recover, things are just taken out of your control."
“I have got so many happy memories of my time in the first-class game and in particular the four years I have spent with Somerset; it's been great to be part of a fantastic team who have been amazing team mates and friends.
“It has been great to play a part in helping many of our exciting younger players to develop and to start showing the consistent performances that we all knew they were capable of.
“I may be retiring from first-class cricket but I hope to remain involved with the game at some level in a coaching capacity as I would love to be able to give something back to this wonderful game that has been so good to me over the years.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people that have helped me through my career; I would like to mention them by name but there have been so many to whom I am very grateful, and in particular the Somerset supporters who have made me feel so welcome in my time here at the club."
Somerset director of cricket Dave Nosworthy said: “It is always sad when someone like Steve, who has spent the whole of his working life in first-class cricket is forced to retire through injury.
“He has made a great contribution to Somerset and he will certainly be missed around the dressing room.
“We would like to thank Steve for all that he has done during his time at Somerset and wish him well for the future.”