SOMERSET fast bowler Steve Kirby, who has been involved with First Class cricket for 20 years, this week announced his retirement with immediate effect because of an ongoing shoulder injury, writes Richard Walsh.

Last winter Kirby underwent surgery on his right shoulder. Although there was a slight improvement, he suffered a further nasty incident while playing in a second team game recently which has left him with no option but to hang up his boots.

Kirby started his cricketing career when he left school at the age of 16 initially on a YTS scheme at Leicestershire, where he joined the staff in 1998.

He then moved to Yorkshire where he made his debut in 2001, where he played a significant part in winning the County Championship, their first for 33 years.

Two seasons later he came to the attention of Somerset when he took 5-74 in the first innings and followed up with a career best of 8-80 at the County Ground, to bowl the visitors to victory.

He moved to join Gloucestershire in 2005 where he enjoyed six seasons before signing for Somerset before the 2011 season.

His best season was in 2011 when he took 53 wickets, including his Somerset best of 6- 115 against Lancashire, the county where he was born.

Since joining the Somerset Kirby has played in 35 First Class matches in which he has bowled almost 1,000 overs and taken 103 wickets at an average of 32.23.

He has also been a key member of the limited over and T20 teams, claiming 45 List A wickets at 22.2 and 34 T20 scalps at 25.74.

He also appeared in two finals and was part of the Champions League side that finished semi- finalists in 2011.

Kirby said: “It has come as a real blow to me to have to retire from the game that I have been involved with for the past 20 years of my life.

“It’s been a difficult winter having gone through two operations. Dealing with setbacks is always part of professional sport but sometimes no matter how hard you try to recover, things are just taken out of your control.

“I have got so many happy memories of my time in the first class game and in particular the four years I have spent with Somerset.

“It’s been great to be part of a fantastic team who have been amazing team mates and friends.

“It has been great to play a part in helping many of our exciting younger players to develop and to start showing the consistent performances that we all knew they were capable of.

“I may be retiring from first class cricket but I hope to remain involved with the game at some level in a coaching capacity as I would love to be able to give something back to this wonderful game that has been so good to me over the years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people that have helped me through my career. I would like to mention them by name but there have been so many to whom I am very grateful, and in particular the Somerset supporters who have made me feel so welcome in my time here at the club.”

Somerset Director of Cricket Dave Nosworthy said: “Steve has made a great contribution to Somerset and he will certainly be missed around the dressing room. We would like to thank Steve for all that he has done during his time at Somerset and wish him well for the future.”