London: Alastair Cook has resigned as England Test captain after a record 59 matches in charge.
The 32-year-old Essex batsman took the role in 2012 and led his country to Ashes victories in 2013 and 2015.
However, during last year's 4-0 Test series defeat in India he admitted to having "questions" over his role.
"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," said Cook.
"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."
The England and Wales Cricket Board has started the process of selecting Cook's successor, with his fellow batsman Joe Root regarded as the favourite.
Director of cricket Andrew Strauss said the ECB hoped to make an appointment before England depart for a three-match one-day international series in the West Indies on 22 February.
Strauss, who Cook replaced as captain, said his successor was owed "a great debt of gratitude" by his country.
"He's led the team with determination, conviction and a huge amount of pride over the last five years and his record stands for itself," added Strauss.
"He deserves to be seen as one of our country's great captains."