IAN SAXELBY has been forced to retire from first class cricket less than a month after his 25th birthday.

The desperately unlucky Gloucestershire seam bowler missed the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury which required surgery, but has now succumbed to a knee problem.

Gloucestershire coaches feared the worst when he could not complete his third over in the pre-season friendly against Glamorgan.

But he made his first county championship appearance since August 2012 in the match against Essex and showed what the county had been missing by taking three wickets.

However, he broke down again after bowling just two balls on the first day of the next game against Surrey at the Oval last month.

In six seasons with the county injury-prone Ian has played at just two Cheltenham festivals.

The surgery he recently had on the knee revealed the damage to be worse than initially hoped and this has meant that continuing his career in professional sport is no longer an option.

Gloucestershire’s director of cricket, John Bracewell, said: “It is a great shame that Ian has been forced to retire from the game at such a young age due to injury.

"He has been the consummate professional and proved to be a bowler beyond his years.

“With a good repeatable action he hit the wicket hard with control and outswing. He led our attack from an early age and his calm demeanour under pressure meant he was a ‘go to guy’ in tough situations.

“He will be missed by the team and hard to replace.”

Commenting on his forced retirement, Saxelby said: "It is extremely disappointing that I am unable to continue along the path of professional cricket but unfortunately my body is forcing me to hang up my boots.

"After recovering from my shoulder surgery last season, I’m devastated by the seriousness of this recent career-ending injury. I feel that I have given everything to the sport and I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent in the game.

“I must thank everyone I have met along the way, in this country and abroad, for the support that has come my way and I am very grateful for the opportunities cricket has given me.

"Finally, I must thank Gloucestershire CCC for the past seven years. All the staff have been fantastic to work with and I wish the lads every success this season and in the coming years."