Joe Root stepped down as England's test cricket captain on Friday, ending his five-year spell in a role that became increasingly challenging because of the team's long run of series defeats - including 4-0 in the Ashes over the winter.

"I have loved leading my country," Root said, "but recently it's hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game."

Root leaves his post holding the record for the number of wins as England test captain - at 27 - while his status as one of the world's leading batters is secure after scoring eight centuries since the turn of 2021.

However, his captaincy has come under scrutiny with England having only won just one of its last 17 test matches - the country's worst run since the 1980s.

Losing heavily in Australia, England's biggest rival, was followed last month with a 1-0 series defeat to the West Indies. That made it four series defeats in a row - and it could be five unless England can beat India in July in the remaining test left over from their unfinished series from last year.

"It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career," said the 31-year-old Root, who took over as captain from Alastair Cook in 2017, "but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right."

Root said he wanted to carry on playing for England, for whom he is the country's second highest run-scorer in tests behind Cook.

It leaves England's men's team not only without a captain, but also a coach and director of cricket after the departures of Chris Silverwood and Ashley Giles, respectively, in the wake of the Ashes.

Ben Stokes will be among the favorites to take over as captain, although the allrounder has just returned to the team after a spell out for mental-health reasons.

From The Associated Press

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