Former England batsman Ian Bell has decided to retire from professional cricket at the end of the 2020 domestic season.
The 38-year-old is set to play the final first-class fixture of his career on Sunday while he will play his last T20 game next week.
While the five-time Ashes winner's last appearance in international cricket arrived back in 2015, he continued to be a regular member of the Warwickshire outfit on the domestic scene.
Bell accumulated a total of 7,727 runs across an illustrious 118-Test career and also represented England in 161 ODIs and eight T20Is.
His impressive run tally of 5,416 in the 50-over format lands him the third position on England's all-time ODI run-scorers list.
Bell, who made his debut in 2004, is expected to transition to the field of coaching after a stint as England's batting coach in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa earlier this year.
"It’s with enormous sadness, but with equal pride, that I am announcing my retirement from professional cricket," Bell said in a heartfelt note posted on his social media accounts.
"Tomorrow will be my final red ball game and next week I’ll play my final T20 match. It’s true when they say you know when the time’s right, and unfortunately, my time is now."
Bell had been struggling for runs in the ongoing season and mentioned his waning form prompted him to step away from competitive cricket despite having signed a new deal with Warwickshire.
It’s true when they say you know when the time’s right, and unfortunately, my time is now.— Ian Bell (@Ian_Bell) September 5, 2020
It’s been a pleasure.
"While my hunger and enthusiasm for the sport 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 from 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," he added.
Bell played a pivotal role in England's ascension to the No. 1 rank in Tests in 2011 as he was part of a formidable top-order alongside Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen.
His batting excellence at the highest level was marked by immensely elegant strokes. Bell's exceptional execution of the cover drive was noted for sheer poise and style.
"To have been part of an England Test team to reach number one in the world, to win five Ashes Series, one of which as Player of the Series, and an away Series in India is some return for a young lad who simply dreamt of batting at Edgbaston," Bell stated.
"I count myself lucky for many things, but to have shared these experiences with the group of guys I did is something I’m very grateful for.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to share dressing rooms with not just the very best players in the world, but the very best guys."
Apart from being a constant presence in the England line-up for more than a decade, Bell found success in franchise-based competitions as well.
His T20 portfolio saw him bag contracts in the Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League and Bangladesh Premier League. Bell was involved in an unbroken stand with Michael Klinger during the 2016-17 BBL final when Perth Scorchers claimed their second title.
"I would also like to thank the overseas Franchises I had the privilege of playing for too: Perth Scorchers, Islamabad United and Dhaka Dynamites," Bell wrote.
"Winning The Big Bash with the Scorchers was one of the highlights of my career, while the friends and experiences I had of playing in the PSL and BPL will stay with me forever."
Warwickshire sport director Paul Farbrace hailed Bell's stellar record in all forms of the game and expressed gratitude for his services to the club.
“Ian will retire from the game as a true Bears legend. 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 CCC who scored runs all over the world and was firmly established as one of the world’s best batsmen.”