Former Australian test cricketer John Hastings has been forced to retire from cricket - due to a mystery illness that has seen him consistently cough up blood.

Hastings, 32, announced on Thursday that he would stop playing the game immediately after doctors advised him that this condition could be fatal.

Hastings played one test and 29 one-day internationals for Australia.

The fast bowler recently retired from first-class cricket but was set to play in the Australian Big Bash T20 league when he was forced to quit.

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Hastings said he was "shattered" by the news. He hasn't played competitive cricket since March and said the past few months have been "very tough".

"It's literally just bowling, it's not running, I can do boxing, weight sessions, rowing, anything like that but as soon as the pressure at the crease of match intensity when I step it up, literally I just burst blood vessels in my lungs," Hastings told the Herald Sun.

"I walk back to my mark and cough up some blood so it's pretty scary but they can't tell me for sure that it's not going to cause long-term damage so there's a lot of grey area surrounding it.

"The important thing is I've been cleared of anything massively sinister so I'm healthy.

"I'm OK, it's just I can't bowl for the foreseeable future so I'm trying to find answers but unfortunately at the moment it's not looking good.

"To see it maybe slipping away, it's pretty tough to take and at this stage unless something miraculous happens I won't be able to bowl."