Former England captain Alastair Cook has called time on his record-breaking cricket career after a glittering 20 years at the crease.
Cook, 38, retired from Test cricket in 2018 but continued playing for English county side Essex for the next five years.
The left-handed opener’s 12,472 Test runs is the most by any English batter, placing him fifth in the all-time list behind only Raul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting and No 1 Sachin Tendulkar.
His contract at Essex expired at the end of the domestic season last month and the 38-year-old, part of their County Championship-winning side in 2019, has elected against any renewal.
“It is not easy to say goodbye,” said Cook, who joined Essex as a 12 year old, in a statement. “For more than two decades, cricket has been so much more than my job. It is the right time for this part of my life to come to an end.
“I have always given absolutely everything I possibly have to be the best player I could be, but now I want to make way for the new generation to take over.”
Cook made his full England Test debut against India in Nagpur, scoring a century in the second innings. He would go on to win 161 caps, including a re4cord-breaking 159 of them played consecutively.
Cook's 12,472 Test runs and 33 centuries are England records, while no batter for any team has made more than his 11,845 runs as a Test opener.
He was his country's Test captain between 2012 and 2017, leading in 59 matches which was also a record until being broken by Joe Root.
Cook captained England to Ashes series wins on home soil in 2013 and 2015, but was also on the wrong end of a 5-0 whitewash Down Under in 2013-14.
“It is not easy to say goodbye. Cricket has been so much more than my job,” added Cook.
“It has allowed me to experience places I never dreamt I would go, be a part of teams that have achieved things I would never have thought possible and, most importantly, created deep friendships that will last a lifetime.
“From the eight-year-old boy who first played for Wickham Bishops Under-11s to now, I end with a strange feeling of sadness mixed with pride. Above all, I am incredibly happy.”
Cook ends on 26,643 first-class runs at an average of 46.41, with 74 hundreds, and Michael Vaughan, another former England captain, described him as “great team member and a great ambassador for the game”.
“I don't know if we'll see a player like him again, “added Vaughan. “He's the last of a dying breed of openers. He maximised every ounce of his ability to the maximum level.”