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James Hildreth, a Somerset legend, has announced his retirement from cricket.

James Hildreth, a veteran English hitter and Somerset icon, has announced his retirement from the game once his contract ends at the conclusion of the 2022 season. Since his debut in 2003, the 37-year-old has represented Somerset throughout his professional career.

Hildreth joined Somerset as a youngster and stayed for 20 years, appearing in over 700 matches across forms and amassing over 27000 runs. Hildreth, the squad’s best T20 run-scorer, guided the team to domestic glory in 2005, winning the T20 Blast. He was instrumental in Somerset’s One-Day Cup victory in 2019. He leaves the game as the side’s third-highest run-scorer and will likely lament not winning a County Championship throughout his tenure.

“It feels like the right time to start a new chapter in my life, and I’m excited about what the future holds. I left school at 18 and have spent the last 20 years with the club. It’s been my life, and I’ve loved every minute of it. The club and cricket as a whole have given me and my family so much over the last 20 years, and I’ve got nothing but fondness and love for the club, and that will continue for the rest of my life,” he said in his parting statement.

Despite his best attempts, Hildreth was never selected for the national squad, and his sole appearance for England came in the 2005 Ashes when he took the catch to remove Ricky Ponting as a replacement fielder. Somerset head coach Jason Kerr praised the batter for his tremendous consistency throughout the years, recalling some of his finest hits for the squad, including a century despite playing with a fractured foot in the county tournament.