It was not, perhaps, the resignation that was anticipated, but Heath Streak has confirmed that he will not be returning to Warwickshire next season.

With his body no longer able to do what it once could and his family growing up fast, 33-year-old Streak has decided the time is right to start a new chapter in his life.

Though he doesn't rule out playing some more cricket, it is likely the championship match against Lancashire will be his last first-class match.

"I've been pondering the decision for some weeks," Streak said. "I've played 15 years of professional cricket. That means a lot of time travelling and a lot of time away from home. Now I want to spend more time with my family."

There will be some sadness at Streak's decision. He has been a popular man with his team-mates at Edgbaston and, for a few years, was one of the world's leading bowlers. Yet it is also the right decision.

For watching Streak this season has been sad. Like the sun shorn of its beams, he is but a fraction of the great athlete he once was. Indeed, to see a former champion so diminished by age and injury was reminiscent of watching Muhammad Ali against Leon Spinks.

Streak had the option of a limited-overs contract at Warwickshire next year but, honest and proud fellow that he is, knew that there were a few too many miles on the clock.

"I know I've not been performing to the same level that I have done in the past," he said. "I don't want to go out on a low. I am determined to finish the season strongly and help the team move up the championship table."

Perhaps Streak never completely won over all the supporters at Edgbaston. That's a shame, for he gave his all and those beyond the boundary could not know the pain - both mental and physical - that he has experienced.

Indeed, Streak suffered for his selflessness. While others would simply have declared themselves unfit over the last couple of years, Streak played for the good of the team and allowed his own performances to dip below the high standards he set himself.

The nadir of this season came when Streak failed a fitness test before the championship match at Hove but was obliged to play anyway. By doing so he risked aggravating the swollen discs in his back and suffering a lifetime of pain but all the spectators could see was a medium-pace bowler, willing but incapable of offering any penetration.

Let no-one forget Streak's contribution or doubt his commitment, however. His debut performance, against Northamptonshire in 2004, will surely remain in the record books for ever: his 13 wickets is by a distance the finest start a bowler has made to their first-class career at the club.

He was also devastating at Stratford in 2005. Swinging the ball round corners, Streak settled the match within two days, claiming six for 31 in a superb second-innings performance.

Alas, the distance between such performances grew greater. The back injury robbed him of that crucial yard of pace and, as a consequence, that devastating late swing. This season his returns - only 11 wickets at 63 apiece - are poor for one so naturally gifted. The catches he has dropped in the last couple of List A matches are also quite unlike him.

Still, Streak completed 'the double' of 1,000 first-class runs and 100 wickets in a mere 36 matches - only Ashley Giles (33 matches) and FGS Calthorpe (27) were quicker - and he remained a valuable limited-overs player.

As a captain he led the county in a difficult period. Towards the end of 2006 his side were close to all out revolt against their director of cricket yet Streak remained popular with all parties and - partly by the force of his own personality - ensured his side survived in the top two divisions.

"I'll always be indebted to Warwickshire," he said. "Playing a part in the championship win of 2004 was something I'll cherish always. It's been a special phase in my life and the four years I've spent with the team have been fantastic.

"Even when results have not been so good I've enjoyed every moment with the team. Edgbaston is a special place to play and I am proud to have been able to call myself a Bear."

Streak's decision does not necessarily spell the end of his career, however. As revealed in The Post some weeks ago, he has been approached to play in the Indian Cricket