Matt Prior has admitted a sense of relief after announcing his decision to retire at the age of 33 due to an Achilles injury.
The former England wicketkeeper called time on his career after playing in 79 Test matches and helping win three Ashes series in a row in 2009, 2010-11 and 2013.
Prior gave his first interview since the announcement to Sky Sports at the Oval.
“It’s a bit strange, a bit surreal coming to the ground on an international game day and being the other side of the camera,” said Prior.
“There is a bit of relief having known about the decision and wanting to let everyone else know.
“There have been a lot of questions about when I’m coming back, if I’m coming back, so as I say it’s a big weight off my shoulders and I’m excited what the future brings.”
Prior underwent surgery in September for what was expected to be a routine Achilles operation when the surgeon found a three-inch tear to his tendon.
“From the minute I had the operation and they found out it was a lot worse than first thought, not being able to play was a reality,” he said.
“I’ve committed everything to my rehab and trying to get fit. When I went into that operation, the plan was to come back and was to play for Sussex again and to push on the door and play for England again.
“But unfortunately after quite a long tiresome effort, I’ve not been able to come through that the injury has proved too bad.
“It was a sad day, of course, for any professional sportsman you want to be in the middle, that’s where you want to be, competing.
“It’s not to be and I’m hugely proud and feel very fortunate that I had the chance to play for England and Sussex for as many times as I have and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”
Prior admitted he was “blown away” by all the goodwill messages for the future, including one from former England team-mate Kevin Pietersen, who singled him out for stinging criticism in his autobiography.
“It was a really nice touch from Kevin,” added Prior, who has great hopes for England’s future.
“How can you not be optimistic, the amount of talent and ability that is in that England dressing room now.
“We saw a completely new look England team take the field in a one-day international against the second-best one-day team in the world right now New Zealand and beat them by 200 runs, amassing 400 in 50 overs, it’s incredible.”
Prior has also backed former England captain Andrew Strauss in his new role as director of cricket.
“It’s certainly a challenge, I think it makes a change for him than playing his days out at Sunningdale on the golf course.
“But I personally think there is no better man for the job.” – [Skysports]