Rob Key, the former England batsman, has announced his retirement from professional cricket.

Key, 36, played 15 Tests for England from 2002 to 2005 with a top score of 221 against West Indies at Lord's in 2004. Overall in first-class cricket he scored 19,419 runs, alongside 6469 in List A and more than 2000 in T20s

In a statement, Key said: "The club and I have come to a mutual agreement, after a long and enjoyable career, to call it a day. It's time for the younger players to have their chance, and it doesn't feel right for me to stand in their way anymore.

"I would like to say a massive thank you to all who have supported me throughout my career. It has been a great honour to represent Kent. I don't know what the future holds but I look forward to what the next chapter has in store."

Key has already started to make a career for himself as a well-respected commentator and TV pundit.

Key made his first-class debut in 1998 having been part of the England side which won the Under-19 World Cup earlier that year. He made his Test debut against India, at Trent Bridge, in 2002 and played in the 2002-03 Ashes. His final Test was against South Africa, at Centurion, in 2005 when England clinched the series and Key had played an important role in the previous Test when he made 83 in the first innings at the Wanderers.

He was briefly recalled to the international fold in 2009 as part of England's squad for the World T20 but his only outing in the competition was the opening defeat against Netherlands.

Key passed 1000 runs in seven English seasons, his best return being 1896 in the 2004 summer which also brought his Test double century.

He was appointed Kent captain in 2006 and led them for nine seasons in two spells, which included winning the 2007 T20 Cup.

Kent chairman George Kennedy said: "Rob has been an outstanding servant of Kent and England throughout his career.

"He is a club man and selfless captain whose records will stand as testament to his ability with the bat. Perhaps more importantly his leadership and loyalty to Kent in some turbulent times has helped lead the club to a much stronger place. The current crop of exciting talent has learned much from his time at the helm.

"A Kent side without Rob at the top of the order will look very odd and everyone at the club wishes him all the best for the future."