Alastair Cook on Monday resigned as the captain of the England Test team. The 32-year-old, who has led England in a record 59 Tests, was under the microscope after the disastrous tour of India at the end of 2016 when his side went down 0-4 to the hosts. While who would replace him is still not clear, Joe Root is one of the stronger candidates for the post.
"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," bbc.com quoted Cook as saying.
"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."
During the 0-4 Test series defeat in India he admitted to having "questions" over his role, and has ended a reign that began in 2012. Cook had skippered England to Ashes victories in 2013 and 2015.
He said it was "a sad day" but the right decision for the team.
Cook, England's leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became captain in August 2012 and led his country to wins in India and South Africa.
"It's been a huge honour to be England captain and to lead the Test team over the past five years," Cook said in a statement.
Cook, who also led England in a record 69 One-Day Internationals (ODI) between 2010 and 2014, is the country's most capped Test skipper and has scored more Test centuries than any previous captain.
He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2012 and ICC World Test Captain in 2013. He tendered his resignation to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves on Sunday, but intends to continue playing Test cricket.
"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," Cook added.
The ECB said a "proper process" had started to appoint England's next Test captain.
England's director of cricket Andrew Strauss said Cook had made a "fantastic contribution" and "deserves to be seen as one of our country's great captains".
"We now move on with the process of appointing the right successor," Strauss said.
"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 February 22."
(With AFP inputs)