Alastair Cook admits England stagnated on his watch but believes that with the shackles of captaincy released he can lead from the front and help revive the team’s fortunes.
Still only a boyish-looking 32, Cook resembled a man with a weight lifted off his shoulders at Lord’s HQ on Tuesday, a day after ending his four-and-a-half year reign as skipper.
The opening batsman’s 11,057 Test runs is an English record but the prolific scoring of his early international career has slowed during a record 59 matches in charge.
While seven of his 30 centuries arrived in the first 11 of his 140 Tests, he has scored only five in his last 48 as the baggage that comes with the role weighed heavily.
So while he admitted sadness at relinquishing his post, he believes a change of captain can rejuvenate an England side that lost eight of 17 Tests in 2016, and his own form.
“Over the last 12 months, we’ve won some good games of cricket, we’ve also lost a number of games. I felt the team needed a push in a different direction,” Cook told reporters.
“I think hearing a new voice could help.”
“It’s not an obituary though,” Cook, whose highlights in charge included two home Ashes series wins in 2013 and 2015 and a first away triumph in India for 28 years in 2012, added.
“I really hope I am here in four or five years’ time because it means I’ve scored some runs and England are doing well.”
Yorkshireman Joe Root is favourite to take over and with a home series against South Africa and Ashes tour in Australia looming, an in-form Cook would be a fillip.
“I have churned out runs most of my career,” Cook said. “I’m excited to go back into the ranks and play with different pressure. There are huge talents in that dressing room and I hope to be still part of it and be able to lead in a slightly different way. I’m still excited by that.”