Steve Harmison has joined his former England team-mates Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles in retirement, leaving the notoriously injury-prone Simon Jones as the unlikely last man standing of the 2005 Ashes-winning attack.
Even Jones recently confirmed that he will play only Twenty20 cricket in the future, so Harmison's announcement – which was only ever a question of time, as the 34-year-old has not played a first-class match since July 2012 – has a feeling of finality.
He will turn 35 this month, and played the last of his 63 Tests in the 2009 home Ashes series at The Oval – allowing him to bow out of international cricket with Flintoff, his great mate throughout their careers going back to junior representative teams.
"I have known for a while I would be calling it a day," Harmison admitted in an article in Newcastle's Sunday Sun. "But I did not want to take the shine off such a magnificent campaign for Durham by announcing it before the end. I may not have been able to contribute in the way I wished, but at least I have got what I most wanted out of the 2013 season – the County Championship trophy back in the cabinet at Chester-le-Street."
Harmison and Paul Collingwood, now the captain, would be seen as the twin personifications of Durham's remarkable rise over the past two decades, from Minor Counties cricket to a major power in the English game. Harmison grew up in Ashington, came through Durham's junior teams and made his England debut at the age of 23 against India at Trent Bridge in 2002, alongside Flintoff and Hoggard.
He returned sound figures in that game, a draw, and was selected for the winter's Ashes tour, where he played in four Tests despite bowling seven consecutive wides in the first warm-up match at Lilac Hill –an indication of the odd embarrassment to follow, notably the notorious loosener in the first Test of the 2006-07 series in Brisbane that set the tone for Australia's whitewash.
But for a period in 2004-05, after an unlikely breakthrough against Bangladesh in Dhaka, he was as formidable as any fast bowler in the world, and officially ranked No1 for several months. He took seven for 12 against West Indies in Jamaica in March 2004, and deserves to be remembered for the hostility with which he shook up Australia in the first Test of the 2005 series at Lord's, rather than that wide in Brisbane.
His final tally of 222 Test wickets for England from 62 appearances at an average of 32 leaves him 12th on the all-time list, three wickets ahead of Flintoff but four places below Hoggard. He also took 458 first-class wickets for Durham. "I loved coming back to play alongside my mates," he said. "People would often put pressure on me not to play for Durham in between England appearances. It wasn't just the management, it was team-mates who didn't want me to show them up with their counties. Perhaps playing so much cricket then has cost me now.
"No one's more frustrated than me at how little I've played for Durham in the last few years, but injuries are part of being a fast bowler.
"The picture which gives me the most pleasure was of me walking off the field at Canterbury on the day we won Durham's first Championship. One hand, with its wrist broken, is clutching a stump, the other is around my brother Ben. A handful of people have won Championships with Durham, but we are the only brothers."
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk