Somerset County Cricket Club batter James Hildreth on Thursday confirmed that he will retire from professional cricket at the end of the season.
James, who developed his love of the game at Stony Stratford CC, made his debut for Somerset in 2003 and has gone on to make more First XI appearances for the County than any other player.
In over 700 matches for the Club across the three formats, the former Millfield School pupil has amassed over 27,000 runs and 54 centuries.
He is Somerset's third highest all-time run-scorer in First Class cricket, scoring in excess of 17,000 runs at an average of 40.46 with a best of 303 against Warwickshire in 2009. Only Marcus Trescothick, Harold Gimblett and Viv Richards have scored more First Class hundreds for the County.
The 37-year-old is the Club's all-time leading run scorer in T20 cricket, and he was a key member of Somerset's last two one-day trophy victories, scoring the winning runs when the Club lifted the Twenty20 Cup in 2005 and the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2019.
His consistently impressive performances for Somerset saw him awarded with his County Cap in 2007 and he was granted a testimonial year in 2017.
After announcing his decision to hang up his pads, James said in a statement: "It feels like the right time to start a new chapter in my life and I'm excited about what the future holds. I left school at 18 and have spent the last 20 years with the Club. It has been my life and I have loved every minute of it."
"The Club and cricket as a whole have given myself and my family so much over the last 20 years, and I have got nothing but fondness and love for the Club and that will continue for the rest of my life. I am looking forward to being a Somerset supporter and to coming down to watch the guys with my family and my children."
"The thing I will miss most is the pride that you feel when you pull on that shirt to represent the Club and the whole of the South West."
"The Somerset Members and supporters have been incredible to me. They have always been so supportive, and I have always felt that, whether that is walking through town or being out on the pitch. I'd like to thank them for their support over the years, and hopefully I have managed to bring a little bit of enjoyment into their lives with what I have done on the pitch."
Somerset Director of Cricket, Andy Hurry said: "James Hildreth will go down in history as one of the best players ever to represent this Club. His stats speak for themselves, but his contribution to Somerset cricket has been so much more than that."
"During his time at the Club he has proved himself to be the model professional and he is the perfect role model for any aspiring player. The way that he has conducted himself both on and off the field has been exemplary, and as such he has become one of the most respected players within the domestic game over the last 20 years."
"His name will forever be synonymous with Somerset County Cricket Club, and everyone associated with SCCC wishes James and his family well in their future endeavours. On behalf of everyone at the Club both now and in the past, thank you for so many incredible memories."
Somerset Head Coach, Jason Kerr added: "I guess all good things have to come to an end, but James has had an outstanding career and I am sure that we'll see a deserving outpouring of best wishes and superlatives for him over the next few weeks.
"There's no doubt he will be missed, first and foremost as a person, but obviously also as a cricketer. Players of Hildy's calibre are few and far between."
"I have been incredibly fortunate to see him play some outstanding innings over the years and two that spring to mind are his hundred not out in a T20 against Glamorgan when were dead and buried, and a remarkable hundred that he got with a broken foot in the Championship."
"It has been an absolute pleasure to work closely with him and to share his journey with the Club."
Somerset CEO, Gordon Hollins is also full of praise for James. "The name 'James Hildreth' is one that will live long in the memories of Somerset Members and supporters, and rightly so," he said. "His record on the field is outstanding and he has been a mainstay of the success that this Club has achieved over the last 20 years. He is held in the very highest regard by those who have played alongside him and against him over the last two decades and he is recognised as one of the finest batters of the modern era."
"He will be missed both on and off the field and we look forward to welcoming James and his family back to the Cooper Associates County Ground whenever they are able to attend." (ANI)