Mark Chilton, the former Lancashire captain, has announced his retirement from county cricket after a 14-year career spent entirely at Old Trafford. Chilton drifted out of the first-team as Lancashire secured the Championship title after a 77-year wait this season but still spent considerable time on the field at Taunton as a substitute fielder while the title was claimed.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to have represented my county for 14 years," he said. "It has been a tough decision to retire from the game I love so much but I believe the time is right for me to begin a new chapter in my life. I have many great memories from my time in cricket, but being involved in the County Championship winning side this year was without doubt the greatest experience of my professional career."
Chilton, 34, joined Lancashire in 1997 when the top order still included the likes of Mike Atherton, John Crawley, Graham Lloyd and Neil Fairbrother so he had to bide his time for regular opportunities. As those players either moved to new counties or retired Chilton's chance arrived and by 2002 he had earned his county cap.
In 2005 he replaced Warren Hegg as county captain following the club's Championship relegation the previous season and immediately led Lancashire to the Division Two title and a return to the top flight. Having relinquished the captaincy in 2007 he remained a key figure in the team and in 2009 was Player of the Year.
"Mark has been a great servant to the club - a hard-working professional who never shirked his duties as player or captain," Jim Cumbes, the Lancashire chief executive, said. "His loyalty and commitment has been immense since he joined us as a youngster. He also carried the responsibility of captaincy for three years. I'm sure he will have other things to offer to the game in his retirement and I wish him the very best of luck."
Mike Watkinson, the club's director of cricket, added: "Mark has made a significant contribution to the county since making his debut in 1997. As well as the volume of runs he scored, he captained the side excellently for three seasons and was a major influence on the spirit and fight in the squad. To be a major part of the championship winning squad is a fitting end to an outstanding career."
Chilton, who is currently completing a benefit year, finishes with 9556 first-class runs from 196 matches, including 21 centuries, along with 4505 runs in List A cricket.