LONDON // England test captain Andrew Strauss has called time on his professional career, it has been confirmed.
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the 35-year-old is to retire from professional cricket with immediate effect.
The player told a press conference at Lords he wanted to get out on his own terms, with his "head held high", and insisted the recent Kevin Pieterson row was not a factor in his decision.
Alastair Cook, captain of the limited overs sides, will replace him as Test captain.
The news comes after a difficult summer that saw England lose their status as the world's top test side.
"After much thought over the last few weeks, I have decided to step down as England Test captain and announce my retirement from all forms of cricket," Strauss said in a statement this afternoon.
"It has clearly been a tough decision to make but I believe that it is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage.
"I am extremely proud of everything I have achieved as a cricketer, and I have found myself very fortunate to play in an era when some of English cricket's greatest moments have occurred. I have loved every minute of it."
Speculation had been rife this morning that the skipper, who has just returned from a family holiday following England's Test defeat by South Africa, was about to step down from the captaincy.
The international row over the future of Kevin Pietersen, after he sent "provocative" text messages to opponents in the South African team, had notably taken its toll on Strauss in recently.
But he insisted to reporters during a press conference to announce his departure that the Pieteren situation had not been a factor.
"I was pretty sure I was going to make this decision before the Pietersen situation arose," he said.
"What happened I did not feel undermined my position in anyway. It was a situation that was difficult to deal with but not in terms of making me less keen to lead the side forward. I knew before the South African series and certainly by the end I knew it was my time."
He added: "It was a very tough decision to make. The drive for me was my form with the bat and in truth I have not batted well for a long period of time now.
"It is important for a captain to not be a passenger and that people are not speculationg whether you should be in the side."
Strauss's captaincy record stands at 24 wins from 50 matches, making him England's third most experienced leader and the second most successful behind Michael Vaughan.
He also led the side to home and away Ashes triumphs as well as the surge to world number one last summer, the first time England had held the position since the rankings were introduced.
CB chief executive David Collier said: "On behalf of the ECB and everyone involved in cricket I'd like to thank Andrew Strauss for his outstanding contribution to the game.
"Andrew has been a highly successful captain and opening batsman for Middlesex and England who will be remembered for leading the side to two Ashes victories and to the top of the Test rankings. He has shown tremendous integrity, dedication and commitment both on and off the field and under his leadership the side has grown immeasurably and reached new levels of professionalism.
"Andrew's calmness and authority when dealing with some of the most difficult moments in our sport in recent times should be applauded and I have no doubt that his contribution as an ambassador for the game will be recognised by anyone who has had an opportunity to spend time with him. His legacy within the game will be felt for many years to come and we now need to continue to build on the progress we have made under his leadership."
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