Alastair Cook has called time on his record-breaking England career and will bow out at the end of the fifth Test with India after admitting “there is nothing left in the tank”.
The 33-year-old will make his 161st and final Test appearance at the Oval from Friday – a match that sees Joe Root’s side having already taken the series through an unassailable 3-1 lead – but will continue playing county cricket for Essex.
It will mark the end of a hugely significant 12-year chapter in English cricket, with Cook having risen from a century on debut in Nagpur in 2006 to become the country’s record run-scorer in Test cricket; his current tally sits at 12,254, along with 32 centuries.
The left-hander, who stepped down from a four-year spell as Test captain in February last year after leading the side 59 times, has endured a challenging summer in which he has averaged just 22 and has now decided to step aside.
Cook, in a statement issued a day after England’s 60-run victory over India in Southampton, said: “After much thought and deliberation over the last few months I have decided to announce my retirement from international cricket at the end of this Test series against India.
“Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face knowing I have given everything and there is nothing left in the tank. I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game.
Alastair Cook took the crucial catch to dismiss Virat Kohli in the fourth test
“The thought of not sharing the dressing room, again, with some of my teammates was the hardest part of my decision, but I know the timing is right.
“I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt. So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country.”
Cook went on to thank his long-time mentor, Graham Gooch, whose England Test runs record of 8,900 he passed in 2015, as well as England’s supporters and his family. His wife, Alice, is expecting their third child imminently.
He said: “There are too many people to thank individually, but a special mention must go to the Barmy Army and all supporters for their constant encouragement for the team and also a special mention to Graham Gooch.
“Graham was my sounding board, especially in the early years of my career, spending hour after hour throwing balls at me with his dog stick. He made me realise you always need to keep improving whatever you are trying to achieve.
“My family and I have had 12 wonderful years fulfilling my dreams and this could not have been done without them. So I wish to thank my parents and brothers, my wife, Alice, and her family for their quiet, unwavering support behind the scenes. As cricketers, who travel frequently, we often don’t realise just how important our families are to our success.
“I would also like to thank Essex County Cricket Club for their help and support ever since I was 12, and I can’t wait to get fully involved with them in the 2019 season. I wish the England team every success in the future, and I will be watching with great excitement.”