Tom Smith, the Lancashire allrounder and former captain, has been forced to retire following medical advice. Smith made a comeback in 2016, after missing most of the previous season and giving up the captaincy, but has now decided to call time on a 11-year career.
His retirement will come as a blow to Glen Chapple, who was last week appointed Lancashire's new head coach. Smith, 31, was Chapple's successor as captain and would have been one of the senior players in the dressing room. He will remain involved with the club, however, assisting Gary Yates in the academy.
Lancashire have also been linked with signing South Africa wicketkeeper Dane Vilas on a Kolpak deal to add experience to their squad.
"It's with great sadness that I've had to retire from the professional game due to injury," Smith said. "Following medical advice and recently becoming a father my long-term health is most important at this time.
"I would like to take this chance to thank the whole of Lancashire County Cricket Club for 10 amazing seasons. To my team-mates, coaching staff and especially the medical team you have all had a massive influence on my career and I'd like to thank you for all the hard work you've put in over the years. To all the members and supporters I can't thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you have given myself and the team. I now look forward to joining you as a fan and watching from the sidelines."
Smith, a Lancashire academy graduate, battled injuries throughout his career. He was an influential member of the side that ended Lancashire's 77-year wait for an outright Championship title in 2011 and also won selection for England A - on their 2006-07 tour of Bangladesh - and England Lions in the summer of 2014, when he had his best season with 773 first-class runs and 54 wickets to help secure promotion.
He was named as captain in all formats at the start of 2015 but only played one match that season before requiring back surgery. He fought back to fitness to feature again in 2016, describing the experience as "like making my debut all over again". Smith gave his full blessing to Steven Croft taking over the captaincy.
"Over the last 10 years I've been lucky enough to take to the field with some great players, childhood idols and at the same time create some fantastic memories," Smith said. "2011 will always be remembered as a great highlight from my career, but to have the honour of captaining this great county, albeit for a brief period is something that I'm very proud of."
Chapple has been putting together plans for the coming season, having taken charge after the departure of Ashley Giles to Warwickshire. As well as Vilas, who has played six Tests for South Africa, Lancashire have reportedly looked into the possibility of signing Shivnarine Chanderpaul on a Kolpak deal and could bring in a marque overseas signing as player-coach for the NatWest T20 Blast.
"It's very sad that Tom has had to retire," Chapple said. "He has made an outstanding contribution to Lancashire County Cricket Club.
"He is a product of Lancashire's local leagues and graduated through our academy. He is one of the nicest guys I know and it has been a privilege to play alongside him and then coach him. He was always 100% committed to the club and he will always be welcomed back at Emirates Old Trafford."