England’s longest serving Test cricket captain Alastair Cook has announced he will step down from the role with immediate effect to be replaced by Joe Root.

Opening batsman Cook, who captained the Test side an English record 59 times, quit the role he has held since August 2012 following a disappointing tour of India that ended in a 4-0 series defeat. He will, however, remain available for general selection.

“It is such an amazing job, such a challenging job and it is one you have to do at 100 per cent, not 95”, Cook said.

“I just knew I could only give 95 per cent.

“After [the Test series in] India I was pretty drained. I just could not see myself driving the team forward in the next 12 to 18 months.”

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know it is the correct decision”—Alastair Cook

Cook replaced fellow opening batsman Andrew Strauss as captain of the Test team in 2012, previously holding the role in the One Day side since 2010. Having stood down from the role with the limited overs team in 2014, after another English record of 69 matches as skipper, Cook has now elected to hand over the reigns of leading the Test side.

“It has been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the team over the past five years”, said Cook.

“Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know it is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team.”

During his time as captain Cook led the England team to Ashes success in 2013 and 2015 as well as tour victories in India and South Africa. In total, he oversaw 24 Test wins from his 59 Tests as captain.

On a personal level, Cook’s time as captain also coincided with him being named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2012 as well as becoming England’s leading Test run scorer, surpassing Graham Gooch’s record of 8,900 in May 2015.

A year later, in May 2016, Cook became the youngest player to reach 10,000 Test runs, breaking an 11-year record held by Sachin Tendulkar. Cook steps down as captain having scored 11,057 Test runs, 4,844 of which were scored as captain – a record for an English skipper.

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

Cook’s predecessor Strauss, now Director of Cricket with the England and Wales Cricket Board, paid tribute to the outgoing captain.

“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”, claimed Strauss.

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

Michael Atherton, the man who Cook replaced as England’s record-breaking Test matches captain, described Cook’s time in the position as more of a mixed bag.

“There were some incredible highs in his time—the victory in India and two Ashes wins at home”, said Atherton.

“But there were some lows as well, the whitewash in Australia [in 2013/14] and the 4–0 defeat in India that finished him off in the end.”

Cook will be replaced as captain by batsman Joe Root, who is promoted from the vice-captain role. He will be supported by Ben Stokes who takes Root’s former position.

“It is a huge honour to be given the England test captaincy”, said Root.

“I feel privileged, humbled and very excited.

“We have a very good group of players and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer.”

Alistair Sargent, (Correspondent, Sport)

 

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