England’s most prolific Test batsman Alastair Cook with 11,057 runs in 140 Tests, has stepped down as England's Test captain after 59 matches in charge. The 32-year-old had taken over from Andrew Strauss and since became England's most successful captain in the traditional format.
According the England & Wales Cricket Board website, Cook had first discussed his decision with the Board Chairman Colin Graves and later conveyed to Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss his continuing commitment to playing Test cricket for the country.
"It's been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years," Cook said. "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 further stated.
"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 how ever I can."
Cook was appointed the captain of the England team in 2012 and led his team from the front against quality oppositions, and emerged victorious, including Ashes win in 2013 and 2015, which will always be fondly remembered by English cricket fans. Though England might have lost against India badly (4-0) recently in the Test series, one cannot ignore the contribution of Cook, who led the Three Lions to victory in the 2012-13 series in India.
Cook, took over the mantle in August 2012 and has led the side in 59 Tests, the most by any England captain. Cook led England to 24 victories but also oversaw 22 defeats during his tenure from 2010-2016.
Strauss, who is now Director of England Cricket, paid rich tribute to his successor.
"I want to thank Alastair, on behalf of the ECB and from a personal perspective, for the fantastic contribution that he has 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.
"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."
The England and Wales Cricket Board, who has accepted Cook's resignation, is yet to name his successor, and Joe Root is tipped to take over the mantle from his former captain.