Worcestershire's hopes of signing Glenn McGrath for a second spell at New Road next summer look to have taken a major knockback following confirmation of the Australian fast bowling legend's retirement plans.

Worcestershire had lined up McGrath as the most exciting name on a list of potential replacements should their No 1 target Zaheer Khan be required for international duty by India's touring side in England next summer.

But, after initially denying reports that he was to retire at the age of 36, McGrath has stated that he will quit international cricket after the World Cup ends in April.

One of the chief factors in McGrath's decision is the opportunity to spend more time at home looking after his children and supporting his wife Jane in her battle against cancer.

That would suggest that a return to New Road, where he spent a successful summer in 2000, is none too likely.

But with Australia scheduled to play only two Tests and three one-day internationals against modest Zimbabwe before a seven-match ODI series in India in October, he has simply confirmed that he will be following his long-time team-mate Shane Warne into international retirement.

After taking 555 wickets in 122 Tests, to rank third on the all-time list behind Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, McGrath said: "Sydney will be my last Test match which will be a fantastic end for me because it's my home ground and my favourite ground in the world.

"It's only in the last few games that I've really thought about retirement.

"The plan was for Shane to announce his retirement before the Melbourne game and I was going to announce it before Sydney.

"But, with all the scrutiny, I wanted to get it over and done with so we could concentrate on the last two Tests.

"Going through a Test match trying to deny that I'm retiring without lying is a bit tough."

After his absence through injury proved so crucial when the Australians surrendered the Ashes in England two summers ago, McGrath took eight months out of the game this year to take care of his English wife before returning to action at the Champions Trophy in September.

When he returned to Test cricket last month, he came back with a bang, taking six wickets to help Australia storm to a crucial victory in the first Test match in Brisbane.

His double-wicket maiden late on the fourth day of the third Test in Perth swung the match in Australia's favour and led to them taking a series-winning, Ashes-regaining, 3-0 lead.

But, after a glittering career in which McGrath has made a habit of dismissing the best of the world's batsmen (he took the wicket of Brian Lara 15 times and Mike Atherton on a staggering 19 occasions), he believes the time is right to go.

He said: "It has been a tough decision as well as being an easy decision.

"Everything is exactly where I wanted it to be but it is getting a lot tougher to leave home because the kids are growing up. "I've still got four months of cricket left if it all goes well and I will sit back and take a look at things then.

"The last thing I want to do is rush into something else."