Former England spinner Phil Tufnell has announced his retirement from first-class cricket on the eve of the county season.
Tufnell played in 42 Tests for England
Tufnell, 37 at the end of April, said he made the decision "due to the lack of guaranteed certainty regarding his contract with Middlesex being extended beyond the 2003 season".
But the county believe an increased media workload was also behind the last-minute decision.
Tufnell was about to embark on his 18th season in a career that has brought him 1057 first-class wickets.
The left-armer also appeared in 42 Tests for England, claiming 121 victims.
"Phil will now look to focus on developing further media commitments and interests as he embarks on a career away from playing cricket," said agents Paragon Sports Management in a statement.
"Phil would like to thank all those who have been involved with him during his career and would like to wish Middlesex all the best for the forthcoming season and beyond."
Middlesex secretary Vinny Codrington said the club was "greatly disappointed" by Tufnell's retirement.
But he admitted the decision did not come as a surprise.
Newspaper reports a fortnight ago said the eccentric star had agreed to take part in hit television series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.
"He has given the club 18 wonderful years and we will miss him," Codrington told BBC Sport.
"All we can do is wish him well."
Tufnell's contract was set to run until the end of the season, and the county turned down his request to extend it early, preferring to review his performance over the summer.
A spokesman for Tufnell refused to comment on speculation over the spinner's future, saying the announcement was "purely cricketing".
Middlesex began the 2002 season with a similar surprise, when club captain Angus Fraser gave a month's notice of his intention to quit in favour of a media career.