Alastair Cook has resigned as England Test captain after a record 59 matches in the role, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday.
Cook, England's leading scorer in Tests with 11,057 runs, became captain in August 2012 and led his country to Ashes glory on home soil in 2013 and 2015 as well as series 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, 32, said in a statement.
"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."
Cook took over the role from Andrew Strauss, who currently is the ECB's director of cricket, during England's tour of Bangladesh in the 2009-10 season, getting off to a positive start with a 2-0 series whitewash. Over the period of the next six years in the role, Cook led the team to two Ashes victories at home (2013 and 2015) as well as one away (2010-11), aside from series wins in South Africa (2015-16) as well as India (2012-13).
He was also named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2012 as well as the ICC World Test captain in the following year. In June last year, he was among the sports stars to be made Commanders of the British Empire (CBE) during the Queen's birthday honours.
However, all was not well for Cook in the recent months, with his side being flattened 4-0 in the five-Test series against the Virat Kohli-led India. Cook's brand of captaincy came under heavy firing after the embarrassing defeats, with the visitors losing the last two Tests in Mumbai and Chennai respectively by an innings after scoring 400-plus in the first innings.
Current vice captain and leading batsman, Joe Root, is widely tipped to be named Cook's successor. He had earlier expressed interest in taking over the role as England Test captain, should Cook choose to step down.
"I've got a lot of experience behind me now in Test cricket, and I feel that I would have something to offer. But hopefully it won't come to that. Cooky's a great leader. We'll see what happens," said Root during the recent three-match ODI series against India.
England's next Test assignment will be against South Africa, at the start of their home season in July.
With inputs from AFP