London: Former England captain Michael Atherton said Andrew Strauss had picked the right time to go as he ended his reign as England Test skipper by announcing his retirement from all cricket on Wednesday.
Atherton, also a former opening batsman, said the Middlesex left-hander's loss of form had been the key factor in his decision rather than the fall-out from Kevin Pietersen's controversial texts, alleged to contain criticisms of Strauss, which have seen the shotmaker exiled from the England side.
"I believe him when he says he has been having these thoughts for a while," Atherton said. "He's been in gentle decline for a year or so.The time is right for someone else to take over," he added, after Alastair Cook, Strauss's opening partner, was announced as England's new Test captain.
Meanwhile, experienced England seamer James Anderson took to Twitter to salute Strauss. "Really sad to hear Straussy has called it a day," said Anderson. "He's done so much for this England team not just as captain but also as a player. He will be missed but he hands over to a very fine replacement in Alastair Cook. Best of luck to Cooky and to Straussy in his future."
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Giles Clarke hailed the 100-Test career of the 35-year-old opener and insisted the controversy over text messages from England exile Kevin Pietersen to South African players had not been a catalyst for retirement.
"I think it was very clear from his (Strauss's) comments prior to the last Test match that this matter has only recently reached a serious position and, therefore, it was no part of his decision-making process," said Clarke.
He added: "Andrew Strauss has embodied everything that the nation expects from the England cricket captain. For us all, it has been a rare privilege to work with such a remarkable man."But the game must move on and we must congratulate Alastair Cook as Andrew's successor."