Matthew Hayden, Australia's most prolific opening batsman who had a stunning Test average of 59 against India but was battling poor form of late, on Tuesday announced his retirement from international cricket bringing an end to an illustrious 15-year-old career.
The 37-year-old Hayden, who had come under scrutiny for a prolonged form slump which saw him fail in the Test series against India and South Africa took the decision even though his original plan was to continue till the Ashes.
"Today I'm announcing my retirement from representative cricket, effective immediately," Hayden read out from a statement as his son Thomas looked on.
"Now is the time to move on to the next stage of my life. I've lived the dream of every kid who's ever picked up a bat and ball...It is a privilege and an honour that I'll always remember," said Hayden, whose prolonged bad patch saw him being dropped from the ODI squad against South Africa.
Australia's recent decline and his form slump had led to intense speculation on Hayden's future with a number of former players demanding his axing.
Hayden thus joined Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer -- all members of the 'Invincible' Australian team which dominated world cricket for years.
Hayden made his Test debut against South Africa in 1993-94 but became a regular only in 2000 and went on to play 103 Test matches, scoring 8625 runs -- highest by an Australian opener -- at an average of 50.73.
Against India alone, he scored 1888 runs, including six centuries, from 18 matches with a stunning average of 59.
Overall, Hayden slammed 30 Test centuries and only two Australians -- Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh -- scored more.
Hayden formed a lethal opening pair with Gilchrist in the one dayers, scoring 6133 runs in 161 matches at an average of 43.80 with 10 hundreds and two World Cups against his name.
Hayden is part of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.
Revealing his original plan was to quit after the Ashes, Hayden said, "If it was, I believe I would be going on that tour. This is the point where I want to step off."
Even though it was not the ideal way to go, Hayden said he had no regrets whatsoever.
"There's absolutely zero fear. I've got zero regrets. I've tried to, rightly or wrongly, extract every ounce of whatever ability that I've been given and turn it into performance," he said.
Taking the opportunity to thank his teammates, Hayden said, "To my team-mates who have shared this exciting part of my life, I want to say thank you for your support and friendship. We have all relished in the opportunity to play in one of the iconic eras of Australian cricket and as brothers of the baggy green, it is our calling to ensure that cricket remains strong."
Post-retirement, Hayden said he wanted to do charity work and pursue passions like cooking, fishing and boating.
"Importantly for me today I'm retiring from cricket but not from life. This is a decision that I've not taken lightly and I'm here after much thought and consideration and discussion with my family," he said.
Hayden's exit creates a void in Australia's lineup and Simon Katich's potential opening partners include Phil Jaques, Chris Rogers and Phillip Hughes.