Cricket Expert & Columnist
Alastair Cook can break more records after resigning as England captain
Last Updated: 06/02/17 2:52pm
Alastair Cook is the toughest cricketer England has ever produced in terms of mental strength but even he'll feel a little piece of himself is missing when he wakes up tomorrow and remembers he's no longer captain.
Stepping aside will lift a massive weight off his shoulders and he'll feel refreshed for making the decision but that feeling of being captain is the greatest honour and you cannot replace it.
His longevity - an incredible 138 Tests in a row (and counting), including an unparalleled 59 leading England - speaks volumes for his dedication and sheer stubbornness and I see no reason why, given his near-perfect work-life balance and high level of fitness, that Alastair can't go on and break even more records.
He wasn't a natural-born leader so deserves all the more credit for fighting so hard for what he's achieved; his record of 24 wins in 59 Tests is seriously good and, unlike some of his predecessors, his batting form hasn't fallen off a cliff either.
Cook's captaincy in stats
Benedict Bermange looks at the numbers behind Cook's record reign as skipper
No captain in the history of the game ticks absolutely every box; at times he may not have been as tactically aware as someone like Michael Vaughan but few have used their leadership and man-management skills to bring a side together as well as he did - as two Ashes victories and series wins in India and South Africa testify.
As an ambassador for his team and country he has been second to none and - even during his lean spells with the bat - the nation's warmth for him has remained clear.
He was a very popular captain within the team - people wanted to play for him - and I've always had a huge amount of respect for the dignified way he's carried himself as a captain, in particular the way in which he's soaked up criticism with class.
Of all his achievements, the most personal was winning the 2015 Ashes after losing 5-0 in 2013/14. 'Redemption' I called it.
English cricket was in absolute turmoil after that whitewash with the nation split over whether Kevin Pietersen should stay or go.
Cook could easily have taken the soft option and walked away but that's simply not his style.
He's always been at his best when he's trying to prove people wrong - whether that's with his bat or as captain.
That 2015 Ashes was his mountain; he put all of his fight and emotion into winning back the urn. Standing on that podium at Trent Bridge will be his fondest moment when he stops to look back.
Cook's greatest team triumph was recovering from a Test down to win in India in 2012/13. To come back and take the series after losing the first Test in Ahmedabad was a monumental effort.
Since then he's taken his swelled his Test run tally to 11,057 and rest assured that Cook will continue to work hard on his game even though England's next Test isn't until July.
This is a lad who has always done an incredible amount of work behind the scenes and he'll continue to do so.
But there is only so much energy one person can put into the role of England captain and Cook, in recognising that he doesn't have the fight to take this side forward, should be applauded for his decision.