CRAIG Kieswetter has decided to end his professional cricketing career as a result of the horrific eye injury he suffered last summer.

In First Class and List A cricket Craig averages just under 40, whilst in T20 he enjoyed an average of almost 32. Behind the stumps he took 308 catches and claimed 11 stumpings.

The wicket-keeper batsman first came to prominence with Somerset when he took over the gloves during the course of a Second XI Championship match against Glamorgan in May 2006 when Sam Spurway was injured, after which he never looked back and ended that season with a batting average of 40 from seven innings.

Early the following year he got his opportunity in the first team and became a regular in the Somerset line up producing many match winning performances in all formats of the game.

An extremely clean hitter of the ball, Craig enjoyed considerable success in the one- day formats and hit his maiden one-day century in the Pro 40 home game against Gloucestershire in 2008. During the course of that innings he helped set a new record partnership for the competition of 302 with Marcus Trescothick.

In 2009 Craig topped 1000 First Class runs which included 153 against Lancashire at Taunton in addition to which he claimed 46 victims behind the stumps. He also hit 882 runs in white ball cricket.

Although he was born in South Africa Craig has a Scottish mother and in February 2010 he qualified to play for England immediately after which he made his international debut.

In April he was named as Man of the Match when England won the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.

That summer Craig was a key member of the Somerset side which narrowly missed out on winning the LV= County Championship title, as well as being the losing finalists in both the T20 and 40 over competitions.

In 2011 Craig made a career best 164 against Lancashire in the Championship and was awarded his County cap by Somerset.

The following season Craig emphasized his value to Somerset when he played match winning innings’ on consecutive days making 152 against Warwickshire in the Championship and 102 against Glamorgan in the CB40.

Although Craig missed part of the 2013 season with a fractured thumb he scored 517 runs in the T20 competition that year at an average of almost 65. He also enjoyed considerable success in the same format in 2014 with 497 runs in his 11 innings.

However, in July of 2014 he sustained a serious eye injury when he was struck in the face batting against David Willey at Northampton in the County Championship.

Craig returned for the last two matches of the season, making 69 on his return. However, during his time playing T20 cricket in South Africa during the winter he realised that he hadn’t recovered sufficiently to enable him to regain his best form which has forced him to make his decision.

Between 2010 and 2012 Craig played in 46 ODI’s and 25 T20I’s for England.

In making his announcement Craig said: “After been given the opportunity to take some time off and step away from the game, I’ve come to the decision that wasn’t the easiest to make, yet I feel is the right one.

“Having gone through that experience of my eye injury and everything it entailed, I feel mentally I will never again be the player that I was.”

Craig went on: “I have had a terrific career, with plenty of ups and occasional downs, and I am calling time on my career and walking away with no regrets.

“There are so many people that I am grateful to yet most importantly I need to thank my family, without whom nothing I have achieved would have been possible. Their sacrifices to help me to be able to achieve some fantastic success defines the importance of family.

“I’d also like to thank Somerset County Cricket Club for giving me the opportunity to play as a professional, to help mould me and for their loyalty. It is a Club full of so many incredible people and with a great bunch of supporters.

“I would especially like to thank Brian Rose, the former Director of Cricket who gave me my first contract at Somerset, Andy Hurry who was my first team coach and Darren Veness who helped to make me into what I am today. These three guys have been huge influences to me in my career.”

Craig added: “I’ll have so many memories of a career that spanned nine years of my life during which I have made so many friends. See you all on the sidelines!”

Somerset CEO Guy Lavender said: “This is awful news both for Craig and the Club but we completely understand why he has come to this difficult decision.

“Craig has made an immense contribution to the success of Somerset and England since joining us. His performances with the bat and gloves have been outstanding and have endeared him to all cricket fans, not just at Somerset but right across the globe.

"On behalf of the General Committee and all Somerset Members and supporters I would like to publically thank Craig for his superb contribution to Somerset and to wish him all the best fortune in his future endeavours. He will be greatly missed and will always receive a very warm welcome at the County Ground.”

Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “This is sad news for all concerned. Craig is a very popular member of the squad and has made a real impression on the Club during his years here. He has been a major influence both on and off the field and will be missed by players, coaches, staff and fans alike.

“At his best Craig was one of, if not the most explosive ‘keeper-batsman’ in the game. He is an extremely gifted cricketer who could win a game on his own. His record speaks for itself and the game will miss him. I would have loved to have worked with him this year but it just wasn’t to be.

"Whilst the loss of Craig is a major blow we must not forget that we have two young and very talented ‘keepers’ at the Club in Alex Barrow and James Regan, whilst Marcus Trescothick is more than capable with the gloves as he has proved in this year’s NatWest T20 Blast.”