LONDON (Reuters) – England captain Andrew Strauss, who oversaw back-to-back Ashes wins over Australia and took the team to the top of the test rankings, announced his retirement from professional cricket on Wednesday.
Strauss, appointed in 2009, will be replaced by one-day skipper Alastair Cook.
“It’s a very tough decision to make. For me, the drive to it all was my form with the bat and in truth I haven’t batted well for a long period of time now,” the 35-year-old opener told a news conference at Lord’s.
“For a captain to perform his role properly, it’s important that you’re not a passenger in the side but also that people aren’t speculating whether you should be in the side or not.
“It hasn’t been something that’s occurred overnight it’s a gradual feeling that has grown over the last six or 12 months and certainly in the last few weeks has become more apparent that this is the right time.
“I’d very much like to go out on my own terms with my head held high,” added Strauss.
His decision was the climax of a difficult few weeks during which England batsman Kevin Pietersen was dropped for the third and final test against South Africa after sending what the player conceded were ‘provocative’ text messages about his team mates and management to opposition players.
Strauss was adamant the controversy had not had an impact on his decision to quit.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I first spoke to (England coach) Andy (Flower) about it before the Kevin Pietersen incident reared its head. It hasn’t been a consideration at all,” said Strauss, who captained England for 50 tests, winning 24.
“I was pretty sure I was going to make this decision before the Kevin Pietersen situation arose. What happened, I didn’t feel undermined me in the eyes of the team in anyway. It was a difficult situation to deal with but not in terms of making me less more or less keen to lead the side forward.”
England lost the series 2-0 and with it their number one ranking to the South Africans. The final test was Strauss’s 100th but the left-hander, who made 21 test centuries during his career, did not enjoy a successful series, averaging only 17.83 runs against the Proteas, with a highest score of 37.
Cook, who is leading England against the South Africans in a one-day series, will take charge of the test side for the tour of India which begins in November.
“I’m incredibly proud to be sitting here as captain of England. It’s a huge honour for me,” said Cook, sitting alongside his former skipper.
“Obviously I’ve got huge boots to fill. Strauss has done an incredible job. It was a sad dressing room yesterday when we found out.”
During his time in charge, Strauss led England to Ashes wins in 2009 and 2010/11 as well as the top of the test rankings following last year’s 4-0 series whitewash at home to India.
But since then England have lost six tests, including three in a row to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates this year, won three and drawn two.
South-African born Strauss, who also played county cricket for Middlesex, made his England debut against New Zealand in 2004, scoring 112 but said the Ashes win in Australia had been the highlight of his career
“For me personally, lifting the urn in Australia was the highlight and it was always going to take a huge amount to beat that. I’m very proud to lead England to number one in the rankings. From a personal batting perspective, there was the 100 on debut, Ashes 100s, World Cup 100s.
“There’ve been lots of great moments and some tough ones as well but I go out with absolutely no regrets. I’ve achieved far more than I ever thought I was going to.”