When I got injured at Guildford a couple of months ago while playing for Surrey, mentally something changed and it was at the back of my mind that I might not make it back from my latest injury and could be forced to retire.
I gave myself a bit of time to let the decision sink into my own mind before I announced my retirement last week and it was a weight off my shoulders. In a lot of ways making the announcement was the hardest part – there was no going back.
During that period of reflection I went to bed every night asking myself: Is this the right decision? I won’t be bowling again, I won’t be in the changing room again. But eventually your time comes to an end and it’s now time for me to walk away.
In the end the injuries were the overriding factor in my decision. But I can’t complain. I have loved every minute.
My debuts will always stand out. I recall claiming the wicket of Kiwi opener Mark Richardson with my first ball in first-class cricket for Hampshire against New Zealand A at Portsmouth as an 18-year-old.
Making my England bow against India at Lord’s in 2007, I was as nervous as hell but I remember thinking if I get through the first over unscathed I would be fine. I bowled a maiden and after that I was okay and felt I belonged at that level.
FIT AND FIRING
But the pinnacle has to be winning the Ashes in Australia in 2010-11, the first England team to do so in 24 years. Being able to contribute so much and have match-winning moments during that series was fantastic.
Even though I had shown glimpses against India a few years before, I felt I proved to people what I could do in an England shirt when I was fit and firing. I got man of the series against Sri Lanka six months later and that period was a big highlight of my career.
Although my time in the game may have been stop-start with the injuries, I don’t have any regrets but it’s now time to move on and leave the cricket bubble.