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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 07:00 GMT
Women's captain Connor to retire
C Connor
Connor receiving her OBE from the Queen earlier this year
England women's captain Clare Connor is retiring from international cricket after six years leading the team.

Connor, who led England to victory in the Women's Ashes last summer, said she had "agonised" over the decision.

She won an OBE in the New Year Honours after a career encompassing 93 one-day internationals and 16 Test matches.

Connor said: "I have fulfilled the dream I had as a young girl. I have played for my country, led my country and we have won the Ashes."

The 29-year-old all-rounder, who will be succeeded as captain by Charlotte Edwards, will now concentrate on her teaching career at Brighton College.

But she will not be lost to cricket entirely, having agreed to become the first woman to play for the all-star charity side, Lashings, this summer.

It has been an incredible and unforgettable journey
Clare Connor

Connor first appeared for England as a teenager in India in 1995 and was handed the captaincy five years later mid-way through a dismal tour to Australia and New Zealand when the team lost every game.

But her partnership with coach John Harmer and then his successor Richard Bates brought about a gradual improvement in the team's fortunes.

There was disappointment for Connor last year when England failed to reach the final of the Women's World Cup in South Africa, losing to eventual winners Australia at the semi-final stage.

But they bounced back to gain revenge by winning the Ashes Test series 1-0 despite leading a very young, inexperienced team.

Connor was forced to miss the winter tour to India which followed because of ankle and elbow injuries, giving her plenty of time to think about her future.

And she said: "I feel it is the right time for me to turn to pastures new and for my successor to take the team, a wonderful team, to the next level.

"It has been the greatest privilege to have played with the players I have played with, and it has been an incredible and unforgettable journey.

CONNOR'S RECORD
16 Tests
502 runs, average 20.07, highest score 61, 24 wickets, average 27.91, best bowling
5-65
93 ODIs
1,087 runs, average 16.46, highest score 85no, 80 wickets, average 26.01, best bowling
5-49

"I have learnt more about life from the highs and lows of cricket than from anything else."

She added: "I firmly believe that women's cricket in this country, at every level, is in the healthiest state it has ever been in and I am so proud to have played a part in that success and rise in profile."

Coach Bates praised Connor's contribution to the women's game.

"This has obviously been a very difficult decision for Clare to make as playing for England has been her life for the past 10 years.

"She has played a huge part in the progress we have made in recent years and will, of course, be missed in the England camp both on and off the field," he said.

New skipper Edwards vowed to continue the progress made under Connor, with the ultimate goal of winning the World Cup in 2009.

"It is a great honour for me to be asked to captain my country and something I will do with great pride.

"It is something I have always dreamed of and will relish the role," she said. "We will all miss Clare as she was such an inspirational leader, but we must now look to the future and take women's cricket to the next level."



SEE ALSO
Clare Connor Q&A
02 Jan 06 |  Women's cricket
England triumph in Women's Ashes
27 Aug 05 |  Women's cricket


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