Australia fast bowler James Pattinson has retired from international cricket after deciding he would not be in a position to push for an Ashes berth.

Pattinson, 31, had begun the pre-season hoping to be part of the England series but his start to the domestic summer had been delayed by the Covid-19 lockdowns with both Victoria and New South Wales unable to play in the early part of the summer.

On the day it was announced the two sides would play in back-to-back Sheffield Shield fixtures starting next week in Sydney, Pattinson made the decision to retire from international cricket after an injury ruled him out of the opening Shield fixture. He will, however, continue to play domestic cricket in Australia and hinted at a return to the county game.

"Leading into pre-season I really wanted to give the Ashes a crack but in the end I haven't had the preparation I would have liked heading into the coming season," Pattinson said. "If I was to be part of the Ashes I would need to do myself and my team-mates justice. I didn't want to be in a position of battling with my body when you need to be 100 per cent fit and ready to go at any time. That would not be fair to myself or the team.

"It was then I felt that instead of trying to play at the very highest level, knowing I have only got three or four years of cricket left, I would focus more on Victoria, helping the young guys develop, perhaps some cricket in England and spending more time with my family."

Pattinson had not played a Test match since January 2020 against New Zealand. He was expected to play a part in last summer's series against India but fractured his ribs after slipping at home and was unavailable to play.

His decision to retire ahead of the Ashes took the Australia team hierarchy by surprise but he was comfortable it was the right time for him to step away from the international scene.

"Now I have made the decision I am hoping to really enjoy the last three or four years of cricket," Pattinson said. "I have had a great time over the years and thank Cricket Australia for the opportunities, the faith they have put in me, and of course all of my team-mates through the journey.

"They have instilled a lot of trust in me especially at times when I have been injured and helped me through those times. For that, I am very grateful."

Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey paid tribute to a career that was limited to 21 Tests across 10 years.

"Everyone who has played with Patto has thrived on his competitive nature and the sheer pride he takes in playing for his country," Bailey said. "James epitomises what it means to play for Australia, the sacrifices you make and the hurdles you have to overcome on the journey.

"But his record speaks for itself, he has been a wonderful player. We would have loved to have seen a lot more of him over the years."

Pattinson made his debut in 2011, taking five-wicket hauls in his first two matches against New Zealand, but his career was ravaged by injury with multiple stress fractures in his back leading to serious spinal surgery in 2017. He fought his way back to play in the 2019 Ashes and overall took 81 wickets at 26.33, with an impressive strike-rate of 48.90.

He also played 15 ODIs and four T20Is but had not played white-ball cricket for Australia since 2015.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo