Surrey and England allrounder Zafar Ansari has announced his retirement from the game at the age of 25.
While acknowledging the decision might come across as a "surprise", he reiterated comments he had made previously about having ambitions in life beyond cricket. "With that in mind, I am now exploring another career, potentially in law, and to achieve this I have to begin the process now," he said.
Ansari made his England debut in an ODI against Ireland in 2015 and reached the Test side on the recent tours of Bangladesh and India where he played three Tests. He had initially been called up to England's Test squad for the series against Pakistan in the UAE in late 2015, but broke his thumb just hours after the announcement.
"After seven years as a professional cricketer and almost two decades in total playing the game, I have decided to bring my cricket career to an end," Ansari said. "This has been a very difficult decision to make and I have not made it lightly. I started playing for Surrey at the age of eight, and the club has been a hugely important part of my life since then. Surrey have always completely supported me and I am extremely grateful to the club for their backing over the years. It is, therefore, with great sadness that I say goodbye.
"Nevertheless, I have always been clear that when the time was right for me to move on I would, and that time has now come. While the timing may come as a surprise, I have always maintained that cricket was just one part of my life and that I have other ambitions that I want to fulfill. With that in mind, I am now exploring another career, potentially in law, and to achieve this, I have to begin the process now."
Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket, said: "Zafar's exceptionally tough but considered decision is one that we should all respect and understand. To retire at such a young age when his cricket career was progressing very nicely, earning a Test debut against Bangladesh last winter, proves that he has given great thought in deciding to walk away from the professional game."
Ansari made his first-class debut for Cambridge University, where gained a double-first degree, in 2011 against Essex - his maiden first-class wicket was Alastair Cook - and in his third match he claimed 5 for 33 against Surrey which included the scalp of Kevin Pietersen.
He subsequently developed into an allrounder who impressed in the four-day game and, for a lengthy period, opened the batting in the County Championship. He finished with career-bests of 112 and 6 for 30 in first-class cricket.
"I will look back extremely fondly on playing with some wonderful teams and having the opportunity to perform in front of the best crowds in county cricket at the Kia Oval," Ansari said. "Equally, to have played three Test matches for England was a huge honour and it is something I will undoubtedly savour for the rest of my life. Most of all, I will miss the people with whom I have shared my career and I cherish the relationships that I've formed along the way.
"I would like to thank Surrey and its fans for the way they have supported and encouraged me over the last 17 years. I am now looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life, but I know that Surrey will always feel like a home to me."