Alastair Cook has stepped down as England’s Test captain with immediate effect, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday (February 6).
Cook conveyed his decision to the ECB chairman Colin Graves on Sunday and has further confirmed that he will be available for selection as a player.
After accepting his resignation, ECB has now begun the process to appoint their next Test skipper with Joe Root being the frontrunner for the top job. Cook, took over the mantle in August 2012 and has led the side in 59 Tests, the most by any England captain. Under his leadership, England won the Ashes at home in 2013 and 2015, won a series in India after 28 years and a series in South Africa in 2015-16.
“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.”
After drawing the series at home against Pakistan last year which was followed by a 1-1 result in Bangladesh, Cook was under severe pressure following the 4-0 loss in India in the five-match Test series recently. “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,” he said.
Cook, who also led England in 69 One-Day Internationals, has stated his desire to carry on playing and vowed to support the next skipper. He is currently England’s most successful Test batsman with over 11,000 runs in 140 Tests.
“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.”
Andrew Strauss, the director of England Cricket, thanked Cook for his services on the behalf of the board and confirmed that the next skipper would be named before the West Indies tour.
“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,” Strauss said. “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.
“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 assignment is at home against South Africa in July.