An era in English cricket ended yesterday when Graeme Hick, the most prolific run scorer of the past 25 years, announced that he will retire at the end of this season.
The former England batsman said: "I felt it was right to finish. I had a feeling at the start of the year that it was going to be my last year.
Hick added: "It is not a physical thing. I have got this problem with my elbow at the moment which has come on from surgery I had early in the season. I felt it was the right time. It was an emotional decision." When asked what Worcestershire had meant to him, an increasingly emotional Hick said: "I can't put that into words now."
In top-flight cricket Hick, 42, has to date plundered 64,358 runs off the world's finest bowlers, an aggregate that makes him the second-highest run scorer, behind Graham Gooch on 67,057, in the history of the game.
In first-class cricket, in which his average is 52.23, only seven batsmen have scored more centuries than Hick, who sits on 136.
Hick found scoring runs in Test cricket a far sterner challenge than for Worcestershire, the county where he has spent his entire career. He made his Test debut in 1991, but in 65 Tests he posted six hundreds and averaged just 31.32. He had far greater success for England in one-day cricket, scoring almost 4,000 runs at an average of 37.
Worcestershire began preparing for life without Hick as Vikram Solanki and Daryl Mitchell made half-centuries in the Second Division County Championship match against Warwickshire at New Road yesterday. The Second Division leaders closed on 282 for 5.