It was with enormous sadness, but no great surprise, that I learnt of your decision to call it a day. Your reasons for going are well rehearsed. You were always a 'big-match' player and the prospect of the county stick without the Test carrot was understandably too grim to contemplate.

You will be sorely missed. In a game increasingly dominated by Roundheads, it is depressing for us to witness the departure of the most elegant of England's Cavaliers. It must be some consolation, however, to know that the memory will live on. Who will ever forget the glorious square cuts and extra cover drives that so enthralled your fans; or that occasional flick down leg-side that so delighted your detractors?

It was, perhaps, inevitable that your God-given talent should be envied by those who sweat in shell-suits to achieve less dazzling results. But who would have believed that spite and stupidity could have so hijacked the glorious game? Corinth, it seems, has given way to Chelmsford and we are all the poorer for it.

Of course, the sulk and stubble brigade has developed a spuriously attractive line in 'professionalism' and 'dedication', claiming to be the only ones who care about cricket. Mired in the misery of their monochrome existences, they managed to misinterpret your veneer of insouciance as lack of professional commitment. But do you recall the 1986 tour to the West Indies when Graham Gooch threatened to return home after the fourth Test in Trinidad? I shall never forget the worried and whey-faced Test and County Cricket Board officials, specially flown in to badger him on to Antigua.

And as for those who pontificate so loudly about 'dedication' - dedication to whom and to what? To the golden ideals of English cricket or to the profit motive? For all your peccadilloes, you never once traded the honour of an England cap for the quick buck of a 'rebel' tour.

But now that's all water under the bridge. When you say you're leaving cricket without bitterness, I know you're telling the truth. Never have I heard you criticise those who have so systematically conspired to curtail your international career. Your future in the media will, I hope, bear the hallmarks of wit, flair and generosity that characterised your cricket. May I, however, offer one word of advice. Resolve to keep yourself fit over the next few years. You are still a young man. Your eye, despite or perhaps even because of the Bollinger, is as good as ever. With the Lord Protector ensconced in Essex, a struggling touring team may well feel the need to call on your services. You are still the only batsman in the country who could slot, unprepared and unfazed, into a Test match anywhere.

In the meantime, health and happiness to you, Thorunn, and your new daughter, Alexandra. As the great CLR James once wrote: 'What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?' Your tragedy was that you understood that only too well.

(Photograph omitted)