Alastair Cook has announced his resignation as the captain of England to call time on his record 59 Tests in charge.
Cook is understood to have called each member of the England team to explain his decision to step down following months of speculation over his future.
Leading England in more Tests than Michael Atherton (54) and Michael Vaughan (51), Cook’s captaincy came under pressure last summer when held by Pakistan to a 2-2 series draw on home soil.
The shock 108-run defeat to hand Bangladesh their first ever victory over England fuelled the doubts over Cook, despite registering an opening wicket stand of 100 with Ben Duckett.
Toiling to a 4-0 series defeat when touring India proved to be the tipping point for Cook who responded to questions over continuing as captain by saying, “I’ve got to go away and do some thinking. Get back home and do it without the emotive side of what has happened over the last nine weeks.”
Having made the decision to resign, Cook published a statement saying: “It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.
“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team.
“I’ve had time to reflect after the India series and this weekend I spoke to Colin Graves, the Chairman, to explain and offer my resignation.
“It’s a sad day personally in many ways but I want to thank everyone I’ve captained, all the coaches and support staff and, of course, the England supporters and the Barmy Army who follow us home and away and have given us unwavering support,” Cook commented.
England’s leading run-scorer in Tests (11,057 runs) confirmed he will continue to play for England, adding: “Playing for England really is a privilege and I hope to carry on as a Test player, making a full contribution and helping the next England captain and the team however I can.”
Joe Root is set to be named as Cook’s successor after playing in the role of vice-captain since May 2015.
But before making any announcement on Root, ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss narrowed his attention to the feats of his former batting partner.
“I want to thank Alastair on behalf of the ECB and from a personal perspective for the fantastic contribution that he’s made to the England Test team since 2012,” Strauss said.
“His country owes him a great debt of gratitude; he’s led the team with determination, conviction and a huge amount of pride over the last five years and his record stands for itself.
The 32-year-old Essex batsman recorded two Ashes victories as captain in 2013 and 2015 despite a shaky start to life as Stauss’ successor.
Last August he became England’s all-time top runs scorer by surpassing Kevin Pietersen’s total of 13,779.