England captain resigns after a record 59 Tests

334
Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook has resigned as England Test captain after a record 59 matches in charge.

The 32-year-old Essex batsman took the role in 2012 and led his country to Ashes victories in 2013 and 2015.

However, during last year’s 4-0 Test series defeat in India he admitted to having “questions” over his role.

“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,” said Cook.

“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.”

Cook is England’s highest run-scorer in Test cricket with 11,057, while his 140 Test appearances and 30 centuries are also England records.

England and Wales Cricket Board director of cricket Andrew Strauss, who Cook replaced as captain, said his successor was owed “a great debt of gratitude” by his country.

“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,” added Strauss.

“He deserves to be seen as one of our country’s great captains.”

What next?

The ECB has started the process of selecting Cook’s successor, with his fellow batsman Joe Root regarded as the favourite.

Strauss said he hoped to make an appointment before England depart for a three-match one-day international series in the West Indies on 22 February.

The team will only play limited-overs matches for the first half of 2017, with their next Test, against South Africa at Lord’s, starting on 6 July.

After the four-match South Africa series, England host the West Indies in three Tests in August and September before travelling to Australia for the Ashes in November.

Why has Cook stepped down?

Speculation over Cook’s future first arose before the winter tour of India, when he said he was looking forward to a time when he was no longer captain.

Although England gained a creditable draw in the first Test, their performances deteriorated.

In the fourth Test they became only the third side to lose by an innings after making 400 or more batting first, a result that sealed a series defeat and after which Cook said he thought Root was “ready” to lead.

The fifth Test saw the tourists again beaten by an innings after hitting 477 batting first, this time with India piling on 759-7, their highest Test total and the largest made by any side against England.

In the aftermath, former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott called on Cook to step aside, while ex-captain Michael Vaughan said he expected the opener to stand down.

Cook always maintained his future would be decided in a regular post-series debrief with Strauss.

The former team-mates met to discuss the India tour in January, but Cook had already indicated he would like more time to consider his position, with Strauss keen to give his old opening partner ample opportunity to come to a decision.

However, despite being publicly backed to stay on by coach Trevor Baylissand a number of players, the Essex batsman has opted to quit, informing ECB chairman Colin Graves of his decision on Sunday.