Andrew Strauss has retired from professional cricket following a torrid time for the country’s cricket team which included losses to South Africa and the whole Kevin Pietersen text messaging saga.
Alastair Cook will take over from the left-hander as England Test captain.
Strauss told the media while announcing his decision: “I believe it is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage.”
Strauss’ future was already the subject of increasing speculation by local media after the ECB called for a press conference today.
New Test skipper Cook said: “I know this can’t have been an easy decision for him and everyone in the dressing room will be sad to see him go. I’ve got huge boots to fill. It was a sad dressing room yesterday when we found out,” before saying, “I’m very excited by this new challenge. It is a huge honour.”
He also hinted that the Pietersen issue was far from resolved: ”KP issue not changed. I’ll get involved in it behind closed doors,” said the captain.
ECB Chief David Collier paid tribute to Strauss, saying: “He has shown tremendous integrity, dedication and commitment both on and off the field.”
Strauss had also withdrawn from a county cricket match after the ECB decided to give him some time off to recover from the humiliating 2-0 home series defeat by South Africa— which eventually led to them being dethroned from top position in Test rankings.
Added to the already mounting pressure building because of his mediocre performances was Pietersen being dropped from the final test after sending ‘provocative’ messages about his teammates to the opposition. Strauss, though, maintained that he had decided to quit before the texting episode.
“The reason to quit was my form with the bat . . I didn’t want to be a passenger in the side. I wasn’t going to improve.” He added that the Kevin Pietersen controversy was “not a factor at all”.
Even though Strauss steps down amid controversy, the fact that he is England’s second most successful captain cannot be taken from him. He led the squad to No.1 position in the Test rankings, with a record of 24 wins in 50 matches.
But his batting average against the South Africans was just 17.83 in six innings. The slide had already begun and the souring of his relation with Pietersen was probably too much to take for the 35-year-old.