Alastair Cook steps down as England Test captain

Cook, England's leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became captain in August 2012 and led his country to Ashes glory on home soil in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa.

"It's been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years," Cook said in a statement.   -  Getty Images

Alastair Cook has announced his decision to step down as England Test cricket team captain, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Monday.

READ: >Alastair Cook — A quiet accumulator

The 32-year-old, England's leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became captain in August 2012 and led his country to Ashes glory on home soil in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa.

However, during the 4-0 Test series defeat in India >he admitted to having "questions" over his role, and has ended a reign that began in 2012.

Cook's resignation was accepted, with Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss revealing that a successor should be announced before the team travel to West Indies on February 22.

READ: >Tributes for Captain Cook

Joe Root has been tipped to step up from his role as vice-captain to lead the side in the longest format.

Cook took over as captain in 2012 and skippered his country in a record number of Tests, but will now focus on continuing to contribute at the top of the order after bringing his reign to an end.

READ: >Atherton backs Cook to play on after resignation

"It's been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years." said Cook.

"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," he added.

Strauss, who preceded Cook as skipper, was full of praise for his former opening partner's leadership and stated that no discussions have taken place with a potential successor.

"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," 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. 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.

"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."

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