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Jaded Cook vows to back new England captain

By David Clough

Alastair Cook admitted a sense of melancholy at relinquishing the England Test captaincy but knew it was the right time to stand down after feeling he could no longer give the role his all.

Cook ended his tenure yesterday after more than four years and a national record 59 Tests in charge of England. The 32-year-old cut a jaded figure on England's last Test assignment in India, where the tourists were beaten 4-0, which included back-to-back innings defeats in the last two matches.

While he has overcome similarly bleak circumstances in the past, Cook said some soul-searching in the weeks following the India tour has led to him realising that now is the time to hand over the reins.

"It's been an incredibly tough decision to make," said Cook. It's a huge honour to be captain and I've loved every part of it, even the bad times. Leading England has been an honour but it is a job you have to commit 100 per cent to.

"There have been times throughout my four or five years that I've gone to the well and dug pretty deep and coming back from India, I didn't think I could do it again and it's a job you can't operate at 95 per cent."

Cook's reign featured successive home Ashes victories, while he can also boast series wins as captain in India and South Africa. On the flip side, his tactical acumen was often called into question while England suffered a whitewash defeat to Australia Down Under in 2013-14, followed by a shock loss to Sri Lanka at home. He rebounded, however, and is now looking forward to stepping back into the ranks as a player and senior figure.

He added: "I've loved it and that is what has made the decision quite hard for me to make, because I knew what I was giving away. I look forward to hopefully supporting the new guy as best I can and hopefully scoring some runs as well and being part of England's success."

Joe Root is a strong favourite to replace Cook but director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss yesterday refused to anoint the Yorkshireman as the only contender for the position.

Asked what advice he would give to his replacement, Cook said: "It would be 'make sure you don't always do it your way'. There are a lot of great people who watch a lot of cricket and know probably more than you do or anyone does, so (you should) use that advice and be open to it.'

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