Injury forces Troughton retirement
Jim Troughton, the Warwickshire captain, has been forced to retire from cricket at the age of 35 due to a persistent back injury.
Troughton progressed through every stage of the youth scheme at Warwickshire and, after making his first-class debut in 2001 and winning his county cap in 2002, he played six times for England's new-look ODI side under fledgling captain Michael Vaughan in 2003.
But it was near the end of his career that he enjoyed his finest moments as a cricketer. Having been promoted to captain the club he had represented from Under-11s onwards at the end of 2010, he led Warwickshire to the brink of the County Championship title in 2011 before winning it in 2012.
Even then, however, his back was causing him discomfort. He missed more than half the 2013 season and underwent surgery in early 2014 to remove a bone spur and had only featured in two Championship matches this season. The decision to retire prematurely has been feared as inevitable for some months.
"After what has been difficult 14 months dealing with back problems, I am devastated to have to concede that my playing days are over," Troughton said. "I simply am no longer able to do myself justice and after much deliberation and consultation with the club's medical team, my surgeon, family and close friends, I have to accept that I can no longer train and perform to the level required to fulfil my duties as a first-class cricketer and club captain.
"Warwickshire has been my life and I feel privileged to have been associated with such a fantastic club. I have been lucky to have played alongside so many amazing players and coaches, who I will regard as friends for life. Captaining Warwickshire has been the proudest achievement of my career.
"I know that I will now have to step back from what is a very talented and motivated group of players but I wish them all the best for the rest of the season and for the future."
Troughton was, in retrospect, burned by his early elevation to the England team. After thriving in the early stages of his first-class career, he was picked for the limited-overs format in which he had shown little aptitude. Prone to over-thinking his batting, perhaps due to some trouble against the short ball, he was never quite so free-flowing a player again.
But if Troughton was never able to demonstrate his ability at international level - his top score from the six games was just 20 - he was a hugely valuable player for his county. Among his other career highlights were winner's medals from the Benson and Hedges Cup in 2002, the County Championship in 2004 and the Clydesdale Bank 40 in 2010. A fine fielder at point and as quick as a whippet between the wickets, he scored 19 first-class centuries and averaged almost 36.
It was his selfless captaincy that stood out, though. While Ashley Giles, the club's director of cricket at the time, deservedly gained many plaudits for Warwickshire's Championship success in 2012, it was Troughton who the team credited for lifting the side in dark times, calming it in success and building a spirit that saw them through the setbacks. Even after making only 50 runs in his first nine innings of the campaign, Troughton remained cheerful and positive and recovered his form towards the end of the season.
"Jim has been a model professional, having won multiple trophies, leading the club to a County Championship title and setting outstanding standards, on and off the field, for young cricketers to follow," Dougie Brown, Warwickshire's director of cricket, said.
"Whilst we're very sad that he has to retire in this way, all members of the playing and coaching team are very proud at what he has achieved in the professional game. It has been a pleasure to work and play alongside him and as a Championship-winning skipper he will always have a special place in the history of the club."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo