England spin bowler Graeme Swann has sensationally retired and will play no further part in the Ashes series, which resumes at the MCG on Boxing Day.
The 34-year-old had been one of several under-performing players in Alastair Cook's touring party under pressure to retain their places for the final two matches of the series.
Australia take a 3-0 lead into the fourth test, starting in Melbourne on Thursday, after regaining the Ashes with a 150-run win in Perth last week.
Swann's decision, effective immediately, is stunning but indicates he may have realised the writing was on the wall.
"I came to Australia in the hope of winning our fourth Ashes series on the trot but that's now impossible," Swann told British newspaper The Sun.
"So it's time for someone else to buckle in and enjoy the ride. I could have made myself available for the last two tests and maybe had a bit of a send-off from the Barmy Army.
"But that's no reason to hang on for two more games. I like to be the centre of attention - but for the right reason by winning games of cricket."
Swann is the second player in the England squad to have exited the series before its conclusion. Jonathan Trott returned home after the first test in Brisbane with a stress-related illness.
He felt the full brunt of an aggressive Australian approach at the WACA last week when he was smashed for 22 runs in a single over by century maker Shane Watson in the hosts' second innings.
The colourful Nottinghamshire bowler has struggled for impact throughout the series, taking seven wickets at an average of 80. It comes only four months after he was the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes in England with 26 scalps at an average of under 30.
His retirement opens the door for England to recall Monty Panesar at the MCG. The left-armer played in Adelaide before being left out at the WACA.
Swann retires as England's second most successful spin bowler, having claimed 255 wickets in 60 matches.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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