ALASTAIR Cook has stepped down as England captain after 59 Tests in charge, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

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.

Cook discussed his decision with ECB chairman Colin Graves on Sunday evening, and has confirmed his continuing commitment to playing Test cricket to Director of England Cricket, Andrew Strauss, and the selectors.

His resignation has been accepted, and the process of appointing his successor will now begin. Yorkshire batsman Joe Root is a strong early favourite.

Cook 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.

"It’s been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years," said Cook.

"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."

Strauss added: "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."



Cook's very first assignment as permanent captain brought perhaps the most outstanding collective achievements in a generation of cricket travels. England went 1-0 down in a four-match series, with a nine-wicket thumping in Ahmedabad. Yet through sheer force of will, and a typical welter of runs, the new captain led from the front en route to a 2-1 series victory - England's first in India for 28 years. For Cook, it was a triumph of pragmatism - engineering the return of the controversial Kevin Pietersen, who went on to play one of the great innings of the modern era in victory at Mumbai - as well as his own great individual skill, allied to that of two spinners at the top of their game in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.


Under Cook, the urn was going nowhere when the Ashes were contested in England. Either side of the unravelling of the Andy Flower era down under, Cook's team were very definitely in charge at home. In 2013, after an outstanding Test at Trent Bridge, they steamrollered the Australians at Lord's and then dug deep in Durham to seal the deal. In 2015, in a largely unsatisfactory series, they prevailed too. Each team hammered the other in turn in a summer of manic cricket, but England ruled the telling middle leg in the midlands at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge - victories which signalled the end of Australia captain Michael Clarke's career.


Throughout, Cook's run-making knack has never eluded him for long. Yes, he did go 35 Test innings without a hundred between May 2013 and March 2015 - but even then, he remained at least acceptably productive. Either side of the lull, there have been prolific spells, making him England's all-time leading Test runscorer, then the first to 10,000 and 11,000 runs. He could yet become the world's all-time leader, and if he gets there the mantle may turn out to be his for eternity.


Cook admitted, in the vicious aftermath of England's 5-0 Ashes whitewash defeat under his captaincy in 2013/14, that there were "wobbles" at home to Sri Lanka and India the following summer. Yet as England searched for answers to their miserable winter down under, it was remarkable he even made it that far. Record-breaking batsman Pietersen and coach Flower, for example, both famously did not. Cook's determination almost wavered after defeat to Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2014, at a time when for once there were mutterings about his output at the top of the order too, but in the end he simply redoubled his efforts.


It took another 12 innings for his next, long overdue, century - against West Indies at Barbados. But even as England's form continued to fluctuate wildly, he delivered the result that matters - a second successive win in front of home fans in the Ashes. Cook's England went on to beat then world number ones South Africa - away - and, as recently as the end of last summer at The Oval, were within one Test win against Pakistan of going top of the International Cricket Council rankings.