Joe Root resigned as England’s Test captain on Friday after a five-year term that ended in a torrid run of results including an Ashes drubbing and defeat in the West Indies.
The Yorkshireman, appointed as Alastair Cook’s successor in 2017, holds the record for the highest number of wins as England skipper, his 27 victories putting him one ahead of Michael Vaughan and three in front of Cook and Andrew Strauss.
The 31-year-old led his side to a number of notable series victories, including a 4-1 home win over India in 2018 and a 3-1 triumph away to South Africa in 2020.
But the past 12 months have been dismal. After winning their opening three Tests of 2021, England have won just one since, losing 11 and drawing five of their past 17.
Root’s decision comes after the 1-0 Test series defeat to West Indies last month, which followed a humiliating 4-0 Ashes loss in Australia.
“After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down as England men’s Test captain,” Root said in a statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me, I know the timing is right.
“I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride. It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket.
“I have loved leading my country, but recently it’s hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.”
Root is already England’s second-highest Test run scorer of all time behind only Cook and scored 14 centuries as captain.
His tally of 5,295 runs as skipper is the highest by any England captain and puts him fifth on the all-time list behind only Graeme Smith, Alan Border, Ricky Ponting and Virat Kohli.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “Joe has been an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances.
“He has led by example, and that has resulted in more Test wins than any other England captain, alongside a number of famous series home and away victories.
“Joe’s leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person.”
Root’s exit leaves England – fifth in the Test rankings – without a captain, head coach, and managing director while the ECB seeks a new chairman.
Players in the frame to succeed Root include star all-rounder Ben Stokes and veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad, who was dropped for the West Indies tour.
England play a three-match Test series against New Zealand starting on June 2 before a Test against India and a series against South Africa.