Regarded as one of the finest contemporary batters, Root holds the record for the highest number of matches and wins as England captain. Root thus joined an unwanted list of top batters who have either resigned or lost their captaincy. Virat Kohli, often hailed a saviour of Test cricket, stepped down as India captain in controversial circumstances.
Another star batter, Steve Smith lost his captaincy after the infamous Sandpapergate scandal during Australia's tour of South Africa. Of the current lot, only Kane Williamson of New Zealand and Babar Azam are having smooth sails as captains of their respective national teams.
Root's tally of 5,295 runs as captain is the most by any England captain. He also scored 14 centuries while leading the side. But Root's England have won only one of their last 17 Tests. They lost the Ashes 0-4 in Australia, then succumbed to another series defeat in West Indies.
“After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down as England Men’s Test captain. It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right.
"I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride," he said while announcing his decision to step down. "It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket."
After the series defeat in the Caribbean, Root had insisted that he remained "very passionate about taking this time forward" and that his team had made "big improvements" and played "some brilliant cricket".
Root, 31, was appointed as Alastair Cook's successor in 2017.
"I have loved leading my country, 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," he added.
The ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, said: “Joe has been an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances. He has led by example, and that has resulted in more Test wins than any other England captain, alongside a number of famous series home and away victories."
Root made his Test debut against India in 2012, and has since played 117 matches, scoring 9889 runs at an average of 54.65. He has 25 Test centuries and 54 fifties. During his five-year stint as the captain, Root led England to 64 matches, winning 27 of those.
“Joe’s leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person," Harrison added.
Root's departure leaves a massive vacuum in the England set-up, which is already without a head coach and managing director. Ashley Giles and Chris Silverwood, who became the managing director and head coach in 2018 and 2019 respectively, left the roles after the Ashes debacle.
Ben Stokes, the current vice-captain, is the favorite to take over. The all-rounder paid tribute to Root in an Instagram post. He wrote: "Been a great ride with you my friend. Watching one of my great mates lead us all out on to the field was a privilege. You have given everything to English cricket and we all want to say thank you for your sacrifices and hard work."
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also hailed Root, saying "He gave it everything with very little support for the Red ball team under his watch .. then he had to deal with Covid times .. he still is and will the games best role model for many many years .. now enjoy being the senior player for many more seasons."
He gave it everything with very little support for the Red ball team under his watch .. then he had to deal with Covid times .. he still is and will the games best role model for many many years .. now enjoy being the senior player for many more seasons @root66 👍👍— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) April 15, 2022
Despite the team's poor run, Root scored 1708 runs in 2021 which is the most by an England player and also third-most by any player in a calendar year.