Former England captain Michael Vaughan has confirmed his immediate retirement from cricket at the age of 34.
"It has been an enormous privilege to have played for and captained my country and this is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make," he said.
Vaughan played 82 Tests, 51 as skipper, and scored over 5,700 runs at an average of 41, including 18 centuries.
But by far his greatest achievement was the 2005 Ashes win over Australia which sparked a national celebration.
His omission from the training squad for this summer's series after failing to rediscover his batting form for Yorkshire in county cricket was one of the factors which contributed to his decision to retire.
"I wanted to give it one last effort to get into the Ashes squad. I've given it that shot but haven't been playing well enough," he told a news conference at Edgbaston.
"I have not played well enough. I have not got the rhythm or form to be picked in the Ashes squad. It has to be best 16 players and I am not one of those.
"Two weeks ago, I was in the garden with my little lad Archie. He bowled a ball which hit a weed and knocked my off stump out of the ground - and when a three-year-old's bowling you out, it's time to move over.
"Wherever I've played this year I felt that warmth and crowd reaction to try to give me one more chance. I now move on and wish the team all the best in an Ashes series they can win.
"I know they have the drive, ambition and abilities to repeat the success from 2005. Winning that series was definitely the high point of my career."
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England Cricket, hailed Vaughan as "among the very best" international captains.
He said: "The way he and (coach) Duncan Fletcher forged a team capable of winning six consecutive Test series stands as testament to his ability to inspire and motivate those around him.
Vaughan was also recognised as one of the game's most stylish batsmen
"He was also a marvellous ambassador for England cricket, off the field as well as on it, and someone who genuinely appreciated the generous support he received from the thousands of England supporters who follow the team at home and abroad."
Andrew Strauss, the current England captain, said he had "learned a great deal" from watching the way Vaughan led the side.
"His ability to identify a new strategy for outwitting the opposition or bring the best out of his own players was a priceless asset," he said.
"But more than anything we as players will miss the enormous sense of fun and enjoyment that Michael brought to the dressing room."
Vaughan made his first-class debut for Yorkshire in 1993 and six years later won his first Test cap during England's winter tour to South Africa.
In 2002/03 he rose to the top of the Test batting rankings after hitting three centuries during the Ashes series in Australia, and was appointed England one-day captain at the start of the following summer.
By mid-summer he had taken on the Test captaincy too, following Nasser Hussain's decision to step down, and after securing a 2-2 draw with the combative South Africans, led England to six successive series victories, culminating in the epic 2005 Ashes triumph.
He missed the return series in Australia in 2006/07 because of a debilitating knee injury and England were whitewashed 5-0 under the captaincy of Andrew Flintoff.
Vaughan was back for the 2007 World Cup campaign in the West Indies but gave up the one-day captaincy after England's elimination.
He hoped to stay in the team in both forms of the game but was never chosen for the one-day side again, although he remained in charge of the Test side and made a century against the West Indies in his first innings for 18 months in May 2007, and also made hundreds in home series against India and New Zealand.
His form subsequently declined and against South Africa last summer he only scored 40 runs in five innings, including two ducks, prompting him to resign the captaincy before the final match of the series.
Only Michael Atherton led England in more Tests - but Vaughan's record of 26 Test wins is the highest by any England skipper.
At county level, he enjoyed his greatest moment in 2001 when, after missing that summer's Ashes series because of injury, he helped Yorkshire win the Championship for the first time since 1968.
"Michael Vaughan is a class act and will be remembered by Yorkshire members and supporters around the world for his beautiful stroke play and, of course, his success in leading England to Ashes glory in 2005," said the county's chief executive Stewart Regan.
"It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to get to know Michael over the past three years and his presence around the club has been hugely motivational, particularly the younger players."
Vaughan's final game was a Twenty20 Cup defeat by Leicestershire at Grace Road last Friday.
There has been speculation that he may now take up a career as a television pundit, but Vaughan said he had not yet received any offers to join the ranks of ex-England players working in the media.
"I think it is important to have a little break and weigh up my options and decide what to do next," he explained.
Explaining his approach to captaincy, Vaughan described himself as a "good actor".
He added: "Captaining your country is a very special moment and the skill is making sure no-one knows what you're thinking.
"It's very important not to feel the pressure, or outwardly be seen to be feeling it.
"It's very difficult as England captain to completely switch off - but you enjoy it and at the end you've exhausted all your energy because you've given it everything."
Vaughan retirement surprises Ponting
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, Vaughan's adversary in the 2005 series, said he was "a bit surprised" by his retirement.
"It is only a couple of months ago that I was thinking he might be named in the first Test squad by England. I thought he might have a bit more to offer international cricket somewhere down the line," he commented.
"Michael was an exceptionally skilled and talented player whose record would stack up against most top order batsmen who have played international cricket.
"He was a distinguished captain who led the side very well. Good luck with what he does after cricket. He was always a highly respected and skilled opponent."
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