ANTHONY McGrath hopes to continue his 17-year association with Yorkshire after being forced to announce his retirement from playing by a thumb injury that troubled him for most of last summer.

The 37-year-old Bradfordborn batsman, who was out of contract, ends his illustrious career in good shape, having scored two centuries and hitting an everage of 48.66 during Yorkshire’s successful promotion campaign last summer.

He retires with 35 first class centuries since making his Yorkshire debut in 1995, representing his county in 257 first class matches and 296 List A games, but his longstanding injury has ended speculation about whether he would be offered a new deal.

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“I’d have liked to have played on for another year or two but the injury has prevented me from doing that,’’ said McGrath.

“I’m not going to rush into any decision about my future, but I will see if there is a role for me at Yorkshire and look at some other options before I decide on anything. I would like to stay involved in the game but we will have to see what happens.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have represented Yorkshire throughout my professional career. I have been involved with this great club every summer since I was 12 and it is going to be difficult not having the opportunity to play again.

“I’d like to thank the club, the members and all the coaches for their help throughout my career. Above all else, my last word goes to my team-mates, who I have shared the greatest of times with over the past 20 years. I have met some great people that have become my closest of friends.”

He recorded his highest first class score of 211 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 2009 and also became a useful medium-paced swing bowler, claiming 134 first class wickets at an average of 35.

He played four Tests and 14 one-day internationals for England.

His retirement leaves Ryan Sidebottom as the only surviving member of the titlewinning squad of 2001 still playing at Yorkshire although Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s Director of Cricket, hopes he will retain his links with the club in the future.

“Anthony has been a great servant to Yorkshire,” said Moxon. “It has been a privilege to play with and coach Anthony. He has given every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to the county and his role within the dressing room will be sadly missed.

“He is the perfect role model for any aspiring junior wanting to be the best they can be. The way he inspires those around him is his distinct quality. I would like to wish him well in the future and hope that he will continue his connection to the club through his coach education qualifications and programme.”

McGrath future options may involve a non-coaching role with Yorkshire.

A former Tykes’ captain, McGrath was renowned throughout the game for his sense of humour and was often the instigator of dressing room pranks. Former England captain Andrew Flintoff once named McGrath as “the funniest man in cricket.”

Current Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale admitted: “The biggest thing I will miss will be his presence in the dressing room. He was a great pro, who had an infectious personality that always brought the best out of the other players in the team.

“I count Anthony as a good friend as well as a team-mate and I know what a tough decision this will have been for him as he took so much pleasure and pride in representing Yorkshire.”

One part of a cricketers’ life McGrath will not be sad to sit out is the lung-busting efforts of pre-season training, which he will avoid for the first time in his professional life.

“I saw the lads running up a big hill the other day and was relieved not to be involved, he added. “That’s one thing I won’t miss!”