England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Monday that Alastair Cook has stepped down from his role as Test skipper with immediate effect.
The decision comes following the meeting of the 32-year-old with ECB chairman Colin Graves and director of cricket Andrew Strauss on Sunday evening.
Cook has captained England in 59 Test matches and has won 24 and lost 22 in it. During his stint, England won the home Ashes in 2013 and 2015, the 2012 Test series in India while also registering a series victory in South Africa last year.
The Essex batsman will continue to feature in the longer format as a batsman and is also the leading run-scorer for England with 11057 runs from 140 Tests at an average close to 47. He has also notched 30 centuries and 53 fifties.
Despite, the monumental success, England's last two tours in sub-continent where they levelled 1-1 against Bangladesh and lost 4-0 to India, had prompted him to step aside from the role.
Cook admitted that the decision was taken after a long thought and is hoping to contribute as a player and help groom the new skipper.
“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.
“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.”
Strauss lauded the contribution of his former opening partner in taking the reins of the team in the last five years and believes he has a lot to offer in mentoring the young England team.
“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 taking over as Captain in 2012.
"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.
"With more matches leading the team than anyone, including two Ashes wins, he deserves to be seen as one of our country's great captains.
“Off the field as well as on, he has shown his strengths, developing the team and its culture, managing a fundamental transition and helping us to build for the future.
"As with all leaders, there have been times where circumstances have tested him but his resilience and temperament have helped him to prevail and to prosper.
“He has always served with the best interests of the team in the front of his mind and stays true to that as he steps down from the role.
"Alastair will be missed in his capacity as Captain but I hope that he has a number of years left to add to his record-breaking feats as an opening batsman and look forward to his continued success."
Strauss also confirmed that a decision on the new captain will be announced before England's tour of West Indies later this month even though Cook himself had vouched for his deputy Joe Root to take over.
“We now move on with the process of appointing the right successor.
"There are a number of established players who are playing formal or informal leadership roles and whilst we've rightly not spoken to anyone in relation to the Test captaincy so far, we can now talk fully and openly within the team.
"We expect to be able to make an announcement before the team head to the West Indies on 22nd February.”
England's next Test series will be in July when they will host South Africa for four Tests at Lord's, Trent Bridge, Kennington Oval and Old Trafford.
© Cricket World 2017