London: Alastair Cook has stepped down as England's Test captain but plans to carry on as a player, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday.
Cook, who was appointed captain in 2012, led England in 59 tests, which includes Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa.
ECB has started the process to appoint the next Test captain with batting mainstay Joe Root regarded as the favourite for the job.
"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 said in a statement.
"I've had time to reflect after the India series and this weekend I spoke to Colin Graves, the Chairman, to explain and offer my resignation," England's most capped Test captain said referring to last year's 4-0 loss in India.
The 32-year-old has scored more Test centuries than any of his predecessors and is also the country's most prolific Test batsman with 11,057 runs in 140 Tests.
"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," he added.
Factbox on opening batsman Alastair Cook, who stepped down as England Test captain on Monday.
*Born December 25, 1984, in Gloucester, England.
*Scored an unbeaten 104 on Test debut against India at Nagpur in 2006 and made his One-day International debut against Sri Lanka in the same year.
*Scored 766 runs in seven innings during the 2010-11 Ashes tour to help England to their first series win in Australia for 24 years.
*Scored 294 against India in 2011, his highest Test score to date, and was named as the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Test Cricketer of the Year.
*Succeeded Andrew Strauss as ODI skipper in 2011 and as permanent Test captain in 2012.
* Scored his 23rd century in 2012, against India, to break the record for most test hundreds for England. Also became the youngest player to pass 7,000 Test runs and was named as one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year.
*Led England to the final of the 2013 Champions Trophy, losing to India. He lost the One-day captaincy and a place in the 2015 World Cup squad after a poor run of form.
*Captained England to a 3-0 home Ashes win in 2013, but a 5-0 whitewash Down Under led to criticism of his captaincy.
*Passed Graham Gooch's 8,900-run tally during the 2015 series against New Zealand to become England's most leading run scorer in Tests.
*Led England to a surprise 3-2 Ashes win in 2015 and was named as captain of the ICC's Test team of the year.
*Captained England to a 2-1 Test series win in South Africa in 2016 against a team then ranked No1 in the world.
*Ended 2015 as the year's third-highest Test run scorer with 1,364 at an average of 54.56.
*In May 2016 became the first English batsman and the 12th player from any country to score 10,000 runs in Test matches.
*Stepped down as England Test captain in February 2017 after an embarrassing 4-0 series loss in India at the end of 2016.
*Led England in 59 Tests, more than any of his predecessors.
*Cook is England's most prolific test batsman with 11,057 runs in 140 Tests.