Alastair Cook has decided to step down as England’s Test captain, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Monday (February 6). After leading the Three Lions in 59 Tests, the southpaw, who is also England’s all-time highest run-scorer in Tests, called it quits after a humiliating 4-0 loss at the hands of India, in December last year.
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Confirming his decision, Cook said:
“It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years.
“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.
“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.”
Alastair Cook was appointed England’s Test captain in 2012, after Andrew Strauss resigned from the post following the 2-0 defeat against South Africa at home, which also saw them lose their No. 1 ranking.
His full-time captaincy career started with a bang as England got the better of Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side in the four-match series (2-1), their first series win in India since 1984-85. Under Cook, England won the Ashes twice (2013, 2015) and also defeated South Africa in South Africa (2-1) in 2015-16.
He had his fair share of lows as a captain. Under him, England lost the 2013-14 Ashes (5-0). In 2014, for the first time in almost two years, England lost a home series (against Sri Lanka 1-0), which proved to be Alastair Cook’s first Test series loss as a captain at home. In 2015, after almost sealing the first Test against Pakistan in the UAE, Cook’s men lost the final two Tests, only to lose the series 2-0.
Last year, England thoroughly dominated Bangladesh in their own backyard after winning the ODIs and the first Test, but suffered a humiliating defeat in the second Test, only to draw the series 1-1.
On India tour, they started on a bright note at Rajkot but were thrashed 4-0 by Virat Kohli-led side. This series defeat raised a lot of questions on his captaincy career and speculations were rife that he would step down sooner or later.
In 59 Tests, Alastair Cook won 24, lost 22 and drew 13.
Andrew Strauss, Director of England Cricket, paid tribute to Alastair Cook and lauded him for his fantastic contribution to English cricket.
“I want to thank Alastair, on behalf of the ECB and from a personal perspective, for the fantastic contribution that he’s 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.”
So far, Cook has played 140 Tests and scored 11,057 runs at an average of 46.45 with 30 centuries and 53 half-centuries.
It is expected that Joe Root will be appointed as the new captain in the coming days.