Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper, has announced his decision to retire from cricket at the end of the 2017 season. Read, aged 38 and with a professional career that stretches back to the mid-90s, will take up a position as director of cricket at Uppingham School.
While Read's career started in his native Devon and included a brief stint as understudy to Jack Russell at Gloucestershire, it is his two decades at Nottinghamshire for which he will be best remembered. He was part of Championship-winning teams in 2005 and 2010 as well as helping the side to the YB40 title in 2013. He was capped by Notts in 1999 and has been club captain since 2008. The prospect of finishing with promotion will, no doubt, be ample motivation for his final season.
He also represented England 52 times, including 15 Tests. Picked too early and discarded too soon - he was selected for a Lions tour before he had played a first-class game - he was memorably bowled ducking into a fine Chris Cairns slower ball at Lord's as a 20-year-old who was still learning his trade. In mitigation, the Lord's sidescreen was later extended, but five of Read's first 13 Test innings were ducks.
But if some recall him as that naive young player, they missed his development into an excellent keeper and a fine middle-order batsman. He has averaged 43.57 in first-class cricket for Nottinghamshire since the start of the 2006 season and developed into one of the most destructive 'finishers' in the white-ball game. If James Foster was the best England keeper of his generation - Russell rates him as perhaps the best of all time - Read was not so far behind. And his run-scoring record suggests he could have made it as a specialist batsman.
His England career was curtailed, in part, by disagreements with the coach, Duncan Fletcher. Fletcher felt Read was reluctant to go for chances wide to his right while it was also suggested he could be a little quiet on the pitch at a time when the keeper was expected to drive the team forward with vocal encouragement.
In a 2009 interview with Spin magazine, Read responded by saying: "I'm exceptionally happy with the way I kept wicket for England. I'm well aware of my technique and I feel I'm a lot more proficient in judging wicketkeeping than Duncan Fletcher is.
"I like to think of myself as a thinking cricketer and I'm not sure that screaming and shouting gets you anywhere. Do you have to scream and shout to be a good cricketer? I don't think so.
"I had numerous chances to establish myself in the England team and I have to accept that I didn't fully take them. I'm very happy with the way I kept wicket for England, but I'm very disappointed with the way I batted."
He won a brief recall towards the end of 2006, registering his only international half-century against Pakistan at Leeds, but it was his and Foster's misfortune that their careers coincided with those of Alec Stewart and Matt Prior, among others, and an age when keepers were judged at least as much by the runs they scored as the chances they took. "I think the standard of wicketkeeping generally has gone down over the last few years," he said in 2009. "It's less good than when I started. When I started out there were very few poor ones and loads of good ones, people like Steve Rhodes or Keith Piper, who was awesome. Now there are some good ones around, but the emphasis is on batting."
Announcing his decision to retire, he said: "I feel very content with my career. It's my 20th season at Trent Bridge and it's been a wonderful experience. All good things must come to an end. After this season, it's time for me to move on and start the next phase of my career with a fantastic opportunity at Uppingham School.
"I'm going to really enjoy this last six months of my playing career. I've set myself high standards throughout my career and this season is no different. I'll be putting everything into Nottinghamshire, into driving us forward and making sure that, when I do leave at the end of September, the club is in the best possible position."