London - Alastair
Cook resigned as England Test captain on Monday after a record 59
matches in the role, saying it was "a sad day" but the right decision
for the team.
Yorkshire batsman Joe Root is the strong favourite to take over with
an announcement expected in the next fortnight, as England build towards
the Ashes in Australia at the end of the year.
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, 32, who intends to carry on
playing Test cricket, said in a statement.
"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."
Cook's decision to stand down follows England's 4-0 series defeat in
India at the end of last year, which put pressure on him to quit.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said a "proper process" had
started to appoint a successor, with the team not in Test action again
Cook, who also led England in a record 69 one-day internationals
between 2010 and 2014, is the country's most capped Test skipper and has
scored more Test centuries than any previous captain.
He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2012 and ICC (International Cricket Council) World Test Captain in 2013.
He tendered his resignation to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves on Sunday.
"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 added.
"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."
of cricket Andrew Strauss said Cook had made a "fantastic contribution"
and "deserves to be seen as one of our country's great captains".
"We now move on with the process of appointing the right successor," Strauss said.
"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."
A classically elegant left-handed opening batsman, the square-jawed
Cook took charge of the England Test team following Strauss's retirement
from the game in August 2012.
In his first tour as captain he led England to a first series win in
India in 28 years, hitting centuries in the first three Tests.
His first Ashes series in 2013 ended in triumph and after a harrowing
5-0 whitewash in Australia in 2013-14, England regained the urn in
Cook oversaw a historic series win in South Africa in 2015-16 and
last year England came within one win against Pakistan of topping the
ICC Test rankings.
He went 35 Test innings without a century between May 2013 and March 2015, but the milestones have continued to stack up.
He was the first England batsman to reach 10 000 and then 11 000 Test
runs and sits 10th in the all-time list, 4 864 runs behind the record
held by the great Sachin Tendulkar.
Cook's mentor Graham Gooch, the former England captain, told BBC
Radio 5 Live he had tried to convince the Essex man to stay in the role.
"This type of sportsman only comes once in a generation, maybe less,"
Gooch said. "He's a great man and he's still got great things to do for
Factfile on Alastair Cook, who stepped down as England's Test captain on Monday:
Name: Alastair Nathan Cook
Date of birth: December 25, 1984 (Age: 32)
Place of birth: Gloucester, England
Role: opening batsman (left-handed)
Domestic team: Essex (2003-present)
International team: England (2006-present)
Test debut: March 1, 2006 against India
Test caps: 140
Test runs: 11 057
Test batting average: 46.45
Test 100s/50s: 30/53
Top score: 294 (against India, August 2011)
One-day debut: June 28, 2006 against Sri Lanka
One-day caps: 92
One-day runs: 3,204
One-day batting average: 36.40
One-day 100s/50s: 5/19
Top score: 137 (against Pakistan, February 2012)
Denis Compton Award (Most Promising Young Player in England): 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
CWC (Cricket Writers' Club) Young Cricketer of the Year: 2005
PCA (Professional Cricketers' Association) Young Cricketer of the Year: 2005, 2006
ICC (International Cricket Council) Test Player of the Year: 2011
Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 2012
Freedom of the City of London: 2011
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE): 2011
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE): 2016