Durham captain and former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood feels he is retiring at the right time as he reflected on a 23-year playing career that has “literally been a dream come true”.
Collingwood announced on Thursday morning that Durham’s final County Championship fixtures at Leicestershire and at home to Middlesex would be his last as a professional.
The 42-year-old made his first-class debut for his hometown county in 1996 and his superlative career has encompassed nearly 900 matches in all formats.
He was described by Durham as their “greatest ever run scorer and most illustrious player” and even though the body was willing to continue, he felt it was the correct decision to bow out for both himself and the club.
Collingwood told Press Association Sport: “All I ever wanted to do when I was a kid was to play cricket and to be able to do it professionally over many years has literally been a dream come true. It’s been a great ride.
“I can safely say I’ve got every single ounce of talent out of my body over the years and I can hang my boots up and be quite proud of what we’ve achieved as a county and what I’ve achieved as a player.
“It was emotional telling the boys that I was going to retire, it wasn’t the best speech I’ve ever made because I was pretty much crying all the way through it but it’s just the right time.
“Physically I could have gone on until I was about 60! But I realised that the time is right for myself personally and for the club to move on and get a new leader in the dressing room to move the club forward. I’ve got no regrets whatsoever.”
A three-time Ashes winner and the only man to captain England to a global trophy after leading them to glory in the 2010 World Twenty20, Collingwood’s international career comprised of 68 Tests, 197 one-dayers and 36 T20s.
At one stage, he was England’s leading ODI run-scorer of all-time with 5,092 before being surpassed, first by Ian Bell and then Eoin Morgan, although he remains their most capped player in the format.
When asked to choose a career highlight, Collingwood, who amassed more than 10,000 runs in all formats during his international career and took 144 wickets with his medium pace, replied: “It’s got to be the Ashes in Australia (in 2010/11) and the World T20.
“I cannot actually divide them at all. To win against Australia in Australia is a huge high but also to be captain and to lift that trophy on the podium was something that was very, very special.”
He retired from international duty in 2011 and was installed as Durham captain the following year, leading them to Division One safety that season before winning the championship 12 months later.
It was a third championship crown in six years for Durham and Collingwood, while he also played a part in their Royal London One-Day Cup triumph in 2014.
A natural athletic ability saw him continue to play well into his 40s, helping to stabilise Durham after their relegation in 2016 following much-publicised financial issues.
He expressed his satisfaction at starting and finishing his career at Durham, saying: “It’s something I’m very proud of. There was no reason for me to move.
“Twenty-three years is a long time but I’ve had some great success here over the years: winning championships, winning one-day trophies and I’m sure there’ll be more to come in the future.”
Collingwood would be keen to emulate Alastair Cook’s final England Test in which the left-hander made a century in his final innings, but said: “Fairytales don’t usually happen in my life.
“But hopefully whatever happens I can have a smile on my face and be happy with what I’ve done over the last 23 years.”