Phil Neale, England's ever-present operations manager, to retire after 21 years

Phil Neale, England's operations manager, rang the five-minute bell at Lord's Getty Images

Phil Neale, the most enduring presence in England dressing-rooms for the past two decades, is to retire from his role as the men's team's operations manager at the end of October.

Neale, 66, was first appointed to his role in 1999, and witnessed at first hand England's rise from ignominy at the end of that decade, when they were unofficially ranked as the world's worst Test team following a 2-1 home series defeat against New Zealand.

He has worked alongside six head coaches in his 21 years in the role - Duncan Fletcher, Peter Moores (on two occasions), Andy Flower, Trevor Bayliss, Chris Silverwood and Ashley Giles, who was in charge of England's white-ball fortunes from 2012-14 - and 11 Test captains, from Nasser Hussain in 1999 to the current incumbent, Joe Root.

In playing a behind-the-scenes role in a total 257 Test matches, 422 ODIs and 110 T20 internationals, Neale has been privy to some of the most extraordinary highs and lows of England's international history, including the 2005 and 2010-11 Ashes victories, the 2019 World Cup triumph, and the whitewash tours of 2006-07 and 2013-14.

Prior to his administrative role, Neale was a successful player in his own right, playing 354 first-class and 339 List A games as a middle-order batsman, and captaining Worcestershire for ten seasons, including consecutive County Championship titles in 1988 and 1989, and the Sunday League crown in 1987 and 1988.

In a 45-year career in sport, Neale also made 369 appearances for Lincoln City as a footballer and was the last man to play cricket and football professionally at the same time. In a coaching capacity, he worked at Northamptonshire and Warwickshire as Director of Cricket and coached England A on successful tours to South Africa and India.

He later became Team Manager for the England Under-19 squad that won the World Cup in 1998, and went on to perform the same role for the England A Team.

"I was not sure that I would ever know when it would be the right time to call it a day, but I am pretty sure that I have got it right when I say that time is now," Neale said.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in professional sport as a player, coach and finally as an Operations Manager. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to spend all my working life in a dressing room environment.

"It has been a privilege to witness at close quarters the achievements of the many players that have come through the England Teams while I have been involved, and to have been part of some memorable team achievements. The five Ashes Series victories and the T20 World Cup win in 2010 were very special, but the icing on the cake was the World Cup victory in 2019 at Lord's.

"We have some very talented cricketers coming through now, and I envisage some more exciting times for England cricket in the future. I wish all the players' and management every success for the future and thank them for their friendship and support over the years."

Giles, the managing director of the England men's team, added: "I would like to personally thank Phil for his immense contribution to the sport and his incredibly loyal service to the England set-up.

"I have worked alongside him throughout my time in cricket, both as a player and now as an administrator. He has always been dedicated and professional in every aspect of his role and has enjoyed some incredible moments, including Ashes wins home and away and a World Cup victory in 2019.

"He can look back on an outstanding career in professional sport that has spanned four decades. I would like to wish him well in the next chapter of his life."