Shane Watson has ended his professional career in Australia by announcing his retirement from Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Watson, who retired from international cricket in 2016, joined the Thunder four years ago after previously been part of Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat, though 40 of his 41 BBL appearances came for the Thunder.

He was captain for the last three seasons and finished as the Thunder's leading BBL run-scorer with 1,014 at 26.68. During the 2018-19 tournament, he struck a 61-ball century against the Heat at the Gabba.

Last year, Watson had signed a two-year extension with the Thunder but has decided to call it a day in Australian cricket to spend more time with his family.

"I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart who has been involved with the Sydney Thunder over the last four seasons," Watson said. "I will most definitely miss support that the club gets from the Thunder Nation. Their unwavering support through the ups and downs inspires everyone and I will cherish that support deeply.

"Finally, to my team-mates, I have played with so many great people and cricketers at the club and I sincerely wish everyone the absolute best for the upcoming seasons."

Cricket Australia chief executive, Kevin Roberts, praised Watson's longevity in the game. "Shane Watson was one of the most exciting short-form players ever to grace a cricket field," he said. "Talented, skillful and powerful, Shane was a devastating batsman at his best.

"In a career which spanned almost two decades, Shane made a major contribution to Australian cricket firstly at international level and then in domestic cricket as a significant contributor to the Big Bash."

Thunder's head coach Shane Bond said: "I played against him a little bit and he was an outstanding player, so I was really looking forward to working with him. He was great to work with, he's the ultimate professional. He cared about the team and the players and was hugely respected in the dressing room. We're really going to miss what he brings to the team and he will be a big loss.

"For the young players at the club, he was very approachable, honest and you couldn't ask for a better role model. We'd love to have him around in some capacity and there's an open invite to have him join us during the season."

Watson, who is currently playing for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, where he struck 96 in his most-recent outing, will continue to take up overseas T20 roles. The Thunder, who missed out on the semi-finals in last season's competition, will make a decision on their new captain over the next few months ahead of the 2019-2020 tournament.