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Alastair Cook steps down as England Test captain

The Guardian logo The Guardian 06-02-2017 Guardian sport
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Alastair Cook has stepped down from his role as England Test captain after 59 Tests. He gave his decision to the Chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board, Colin Graves, on Sunday evening but has said he wants to continue playing.

There has been no announcement on his successor, though it is widely expected that his vice captain Joe Root will step up.

“It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years,” he 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.

“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.

Alastair Cook has stepped down as England Test captain after 59 Tests. © Reuters Alastair Cook has stepped down as England Test captain after 59 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.

“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.”

Appointed in August 2012, Cook has led the team through more Test matches than any other England captain. His record includes Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa. He also led the one-day side for 69 one-day internationals between 2010 and 2014, another England record.

The 32-year old opening batsman is England’s most capped Test captain, has scored more Test centuries than any previous captain and is England’s most prolific Test batsman with 11,057 runs in 140 Tests to date.

During his five seasons at the helm he was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2012 and the ICC World Test Captain in 2013 and his services to the game were recognised with a CBE to follow the MBE he was awarded in 2011.

Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket said: “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.”

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