WARWICKSHIRE batsman and former captain Ian Bell has announced his retirement from the professional game at the end of the 2020 domestic season.
Bell, 38, will finish his 22-year playing career as one of the most decorated batsmen in Warwickshire’s history, as the only Bear to have won more than 100 Test caps for England and having won six trophies across all formats, including two County Championships.
At international level, he was part of one of England’s greatest ever Test teams, which went to number one in the ICC World Test rankings in 2011.
He is also one of only three English men’s cricketers to have won the Ashes five times and only two batsman have scored more than his 5,416 runs in ODI cricket.
Bell said: “It’s true when they say you know when the time’s right and unfortunately my time is now. While my hunger and enthusiasm for the sport that I love remain as strong as ever, my body simply can’t keep up with the demands of the game to the standard of which I expect of myself.
“It’s been an absolute privilege and honour to fulfil my boyhood dream of playing for both England and Warwickshire. As a child, to play just once for either would have been enough for me, but to do so for the past 22 years is more than I could have ever wished for.
“To have spent my entire career and won trophies with my boyhood club is something both myself and my family are enormously proud of. To everyone associated with the club – the staff, players, fans and anyone I’ve worked with during this time – thank you.
“I recently signed a contract extension to continue playing for the Bears, but I couldn’t disrespect the club I love by being unable to play to the level they deserve.
“Farby, Stuart and the whole team have been hugely understanding with my decision and I’m very grateful of their support.
“There are too many names of people I need to thank for all the help, guidance and support I’ve received throughout my career, but I can’t finish this without thanking my amazing wife, Chantal, my wonderful children, Joseph and Jesse, and my unwaveringly supportive parents. I love you all.
“Finally though, thank you to all the cricket fans for the most unbelievable support I’ve had throughout my career.”
Across his First Class career, Bell amassed 20,300 runs at an average of 43.46 with 57 hundreds, including 22 in the Test arena. However, he also won 161 ODI caps and scored 11,130 runs in his List A cricket career.
Bell is also the Bears’ leading run-scorer in T20 cricket and he played a lead part in the team which was crowned Blast champions in 2014 and made three Finals Day appearances in the space of four years.
“Ian will retire from the game as a true Bears legend,” said Warwickshire Sport Director Paul Farbrace.
“He’s come through our development system and Academy, won every trophy possible and he has broken club batting records.
“During his 12-year international career, he was also a fantastic ambassador for Warwickshire anf scored runs all over the world and was firmly established as one of the world’s best batsmen.
“Knowing when to retire is an incredibly difficult decision for every professional sportsman and woman and Ian deserves a huge amount of credit for making this call whilst he still had another year remaining on his contract.
“With Ian one of three club legends retiring at the end of the season, alongside Jeetan Patel and Tim Ambrose, we will use this opportunity to rebuild by further developing our young, homegrown players whilst also attracting talented players with a hunger and determination to win.”