Katherine Sciver-Brunt has retired from international cricket, saying that playing for England “saved her life”.
One of the greatest fast bowlers to play the game, Sciver-Brunt, 37, has taken 335 international wickets, more than any other woman for England.
In a 19-year career, she won the Ashes three times, the 50-over World Cup twice and T20 title once.
“I’m proud of the last 19 years and I’m proud of who I am now. It’s been special,” she said.
Sciver-Brunt, who will play one more season in The Hundred with Trent Rockets, revealed she made the decision to end her England career at the Fairbreak T20 competition in Hong Kong in April.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Sciver-Brunt said: “It’s definitely the right time and I’m definitely happy with the decision I’ve made.
“I feel like I’ve been thinking about if forever, not so much from a love perspective, but from a body perspective and if I am still giving the best I can for England.
“My mind has slipped in the past six to eight months, where I have felt I haven’t been able to give 100% of myself.”
Sciver-Brunt made her England debut in 2004 and a year later was part of the England team who beat Australia to win the Women’s Ashes for the first time in 42 years.
She is ending her international career just before another Ashes series, with England looking to regain the urn this summer.
“It was so, so hard, because I love Ashes series more than anything,” she said. “You can’t explain it and you can’t replicate it. When you’re right in the heat of it, it’s great. Even when we’re losing, it’s great.
“That little carrot was dangled and that was definitely so hard to let go.”
A bowler of genuine pace in possession of an arcing out-swinger, Sciver-Brunt has won 267 caps for England across the three formats. Her 170 wickets in one-day internationals and 114 in T20s are both England records.
Overall, only India’s Jhulan Goswami, with 355, has taken more wickets in women’s internationals than Sciver-Brunt.
Good enough with the bat to score more than 7,000 international runs, it was legitimate to consider her as an all-rounder.
As well as the Ashes win of 2005, Sciver-Brunt was part of the England team who defeated Australia at home in 2013 and away in 2013-14.
The T20 world title came in 2009, the same year as the first 50-over World Cup win, which was followed by victory over India at a sold-out Lord’s in the 2017 final.
“When you hear them listed off, you realise that you’ve done it all,” said Sciver-Brunt. “I really loved just taking part. Winning was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the journey. The journey I’ve had has been so good.
“The people I’ve met, the memories I’ve made. I’m so grateful and happy for the time that I’ve had, which is probably double the amount I thought I would get.”
Sciver-Brunt twice required surgery on her back and said the injury meant there were times she “couldn’t go to the toilet properly”, but she is currently fully fit and that has not been a factor in her decision to retire.
She ended her Test career last year and has revealed she also stopped playing one-day internationals after the victory against South Africa at Northampton last July.
Sciver-Brunt’s last game for England was the semi-final defeat by South Africa at the T20 World Cup in February, when she came in for criticism for the frustration she showed during the six-run loss.
“I didn’t want that to be a story,” said Sciver-Brunt. “I was really upset and disappointed by the some of the stuff that was said and written about me.
“If anybody had followed me the last 19 years, they know who I am and what I’m about. I didn’t want there to become something of that.
“When you’re full of emotion, having these thoughts inside that no one else is carrying, of course something will be different. Can you control that? Who can? It comes from a good place.”
Sciver-Brunt’s career has played out during phenomenal growth in the women’s game, from a time when players were amateur to there now being at least 80 professionals in England and Wales.
The advent of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India has offered players life-changing sums of money to play in a single tournament.
“It’s mind-blowing,” said Sciver-Brunt. “The WPL has changed everything. The thing I worry about is if it will change people’s focus. Schedules are unreal.
“As you get older, you can only spread yourself so thin. Some things have got to give and some people are saying goodbye to international cricket.
“People will chase money. It will change the way people think, play and spread their time. That is the biggest difference and biggest worry.”
Previously Katherine Brunt, she married her England team-mate Nat Sciver in May 2022. The couple decided to use their married name on the field earlier this year.
“Everyone needs a yin to their yang,” said Katherine. “There are not many people who put up with me. She has the patience of a saint. She’s an incredible human.”
Katherine said she will watch Nat play for England “with my eyes closed”. She will also continue with a property development business and is open to offers to work in coaching and the media.
Sciver-Brunt has previously spoken about how her relationship with Nat has prolonged her career and how the relationship has changed her as a person.
She was raised in a strict Christian family and said in an interview last year that she grew up believing being gay was “wrong, disgusting and shameful”.
Now, Sciver-Brunt says she does not have the “emotional capacity” to describe what playing for England has meant to her, but does believe that it “saved her life”.
“It has created an amazing life I could only have dreamed of,” she said. “I love it. It was everything I needed to be who I am today.
“I feel very lucky and privileged to have led the life I have.”