SOMERSET skipper Justin Langer has confirmed that he will not be returning to the club next season.

The former Australian opener has captained Somerset since 2007 and also played for the club in 2006, as a temporary overseas player, scoring 342 against Surrey at Guildford, the highest individual first class score by a Somerset player.

Langer, who will be 39 in November, has been one of the major catalysts in Somerset's rise from the bottom of the Championship second division in 2006 to compete strongly for the title itself in 2008 (finishing fourth) and this season.

The club's one day form has also improved dramatically, competing in the top division of the Pro40 League in the past two seasons, as well as being quarter finalists in the Friends Provident Trophy for two years in succession.

This year Somerset were runners-up in the Twenty20 Cup and have qualified to play in the Champions League in India next month as one of the 12 best domestic T20 teams in the world. Justin will be representing the club in that tournament.

Justin Langer commented: “I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team over the last few years. We have proved that organisation, teamwork, talent, vision and discipline are the most important factors when competing on the field.

“My family and I have greatly enjoyed our time in Somerset, where we have been made to feel incredibly welcome. While it is tough to let go of my playing ties with Somerset, I feel the time is now right for me to move on to the next phase in my career.

“I have not yet decided where or what that might be and I will take some time out to decide which route I wish to take, either within cricket or in following my other life pursuits.”

Somerset chief executive Richard Gould stated that Langer will be remembered as one of Somerset's greats.

Gould said: “JL’s contribution as a player and captain will mark him down in club history as one of our most outstanding performers. His direction and determination has allowed the club to reinvent itself as one of the top performing clubs in English cricket.

“His personal example has allowed many of our younger players to blossom and his legacy will evident for years to come.”

The county’s director of cricket Brian Rose added: “I have been privileged over the years to have been involved with many great overseas players at Somerset, including Viv Richards, Greg Chappell and Sunil Gavaskar.

“JL is right up there with them in terms of the progression he has achieved for the club in the last three years.”