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Andrew Strauss quit cricket after a 3 1/2-year stint as England Test captain in which the team attained the No. 1 ranking and beat archrival Australia home and away in Ashes series. He’s replaced by Alastair Cook.
Strauss, 35, announced his retirement today after 14 years in the professional game and 100 Tests for England, including 50 as captain. The left-handed opening batsman, who scored 21 Test centuries, will also quit his county side, Middlesex.
“After much thought over the last few weeks, I have decided to step down as England Test captain and announce my retirement from all forms of cricket,” Strauss said at a news conference at Lord’s in London. “It has clearly been a tough decision to make, but I believe that it is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage.”
Strauss had been non-committal about his future as captain at the end of the 2-0 Test series defeat against South Africa on Aug. 20, when England lost its No. 1 Test ranking. His best score in the three-match contest was 37. His departure also follows a breakdown in his relationship with batsman Kevin Pietersen, whom he succeeded as captain in January 2009.
After taking over full time, Strauss has led England to victory in eight of 13 series, including a 3-1 win in Australia that was its first away Ashes triumph since 1986-87. Last year’s 4-0 sweep of India lifted England atop the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings for the first time.
Since then, Strauss’s team has lost six of 11 Tests and its only series victory came against the West Indies at home.
He scored a century on his Test debut, against New Zealand in 2004, and totaled 7,037 Test runs at an average of 40.91. He made 4,205 runs in one-day internationals at an average of 35.63.
Strauss said his own recent batting form had played a big part in his decision to retire.
“For me the driver to it all quite frankly was my form with the bat,” he said. “In truth I haven’t batted well enough for a long time now. I think for a captain to perform his role properly, it’s important you’re not a passenger in the side, but also that people aren’t speculating as to whether you should be in the side or not.”
Strauss first captained England when he stood in for the injured Michael Vaughan in 2006 and his overall record as captain is 24 wins from 50 Tests.
“Andrew’s calmness and authority when dealing with some of the most difficult moments in our sport in recent times should be applauded,” ECB Chief Executive Officer David Collier said. “His legacy within the game will be felt for many years to come and we now need to continue to build on the progress we have made under his leadership.”
Fellow opener Cook, England’s one-day skipper, will take over the Test captaincy, uniting the leadership of the Test and 50-over teams.
“Obviously I’ve got huge boots to fill,” said Cook, 27, who faces Tests in India later this year before home and away Ashes series in 2013-14. “It feels like I’ve spent all my England career walking out to bat with him. You’ve got to throw yourself into it and meet the challenge head-on and I hope I’ve got the leadership qualities to be able to do that.”
Strauss “has been a fantastic captain, has led from the front for 3 1/2 years and is a true ambassador for the game,” Cook said.
Strauss quits the elite five-day game one century short of tying the English record of 22 Test hundreds shared by Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott. Pietersen, 32, also has 21 centuries.
Pietersen has been left out of the national squad following a home season in which he retired from limited-overs cricket before changing his mind, questioned his own Test future at a news conference, and apologized for sending “provocative” text messages to South African players during the series that led to him being dropped for the final match.
Newspapers including the Daily Mail reported that some of the messages were critical of Strauss, who said that Pietersen would need to resolve issues of “trust and mutual respect” before he could return to the England squad.
Strauss said today the Pietersen controversy had played no part in his resignation, a decision he’d discussed with team director Andy Flower previously.
“No, not in anyway, I’ve been speaking about it for a while,” he said. “I first spoke to Andy about it prior to the Kevin Pietersen incident rearing its head. It just hasn’t been a consideration at all.”
Yesterday, England also lost its No. 1 status in one-day internationals. Hashim Amla hit 150 as South Africa won by 80 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series and replace its opponent atop the ICC world rankings. It’s the first team to hold the No. 1 spot in all three formats of the game at the same time.
To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Elser in London firstname.lastname@example.org; Dan Baynes in Sydney at email@example.com.
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