England and Surrey all-rounder Zafar Ansari has turned his back on professional cricket, retiring from the game at just 25 years old.
The left-arm spinner, who is also a stylish middle-order batsman, had recently broken onto the international scene.
Ansari made three Test appearances in the winter, two of those in India after his debut in Bangladesh, and looked to be a useful spin option for England in subcontinental Asia.
Instead he will pursue a career away from the game, something that hasn't surprised friends of the all-rounder who has always said "cricket is not the end for me. My life isn't directed towards it. Cricket is a part of my life."
Indeed, Ansari was an academic star all the way through school and attended Cambridge University, gaining a double-first, and last summer completed a 40,000-word Masters dissertation on the American civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Zafar Ansari took his first two Test wickets this winter as he made his international bow in Bangladesh (Getty)
Speaking today, Zafar Ansari said: “After seven years as a professional cricketer and almost two decades in total playing the game, I have decided to bring my cricket career to an end. This has been a very difficult decision to make and I have not made it lightly. I started playing for Surrey at the age of 8 and the club has been a hugely important part of my life since then. Surrey have always completely supported me and I am extremely grateful to the club for their backing over the years. It is, therefore, with great sadness that I say goodbye.
“Nevertheless, I have always been clear that when the time was right for me to move on I would, and that time has now come. While the timing may come as a surprise, I have always maintained that cricket was just one part of my life and that I have other ambitions that I want to fulfil. With that in mind, I am now exploring another career, potentially in law, and to achieve this I have to begin the process now.
“I will look back extremely fondly on playing with some wonderful teams and having the opportunity to perform in front of the best crowds in county cricket at the Kia Oval. Equally, to have played three Test matches for England was a huge honour and it is something I will undoubtedly savour for the rest of my life. Most of all, I will miss the people with whom I have shared my career and I cherish the relationships that I’ve formed along the way.
Ansari will be a big miss for Surrey as they pursue a County Championship title (Getty)
“I would like to thank Surrey and its fans for the way they have supported and encouraged me over the last 17 years. I am now looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life, but I know that Surrey will always feel like a home to me.”
Alec Stewart, Director of Cricket at Surrey CCC, added: “Zafar’s exceptionally tough but considered decision is one that we should all respect and understand. To retire at such a young age when his cricket career was progressing very nicely, earning a Test debut against Bangladesh last winter, proves that he has given great thought in deciding to walk away from the professional game.
“He is one of our own, having come through our age group and academy system where he first played for the county at the age of eight. Throughout his time with Surrey he has represented the club with great pride and skill. He will be missed by all his Surrey team mates, members and supporters and I speak on behalf of everyone in thanking him for his loyal service.
“We wish Zafar the very best in whatever the future holds for him and he will always be welcomed back to the Kia Oval with open arms.”