IT came as no surprise that Alastair Cook stepped down from the England captaincy last week.

Ally had performed relatively well as a player in that time but I felt he was beginning to struggle with the pressures of the role and performing to his best with bat in hand.

Being England captain is, of course, a huge honour and as such anyone and everyone would find it hard to step back from such a position.

It is however an all-consuming job where the incumbent is rarely out of the media’s eye and which always courts discussion and often criticism.

Ally has coped brilliantly with most of this but I am sure now is the right time to step away and focus on his own game going forward.

He is our leading run scorer of all time and I am sure one of his goals will now be extending that record as far as he can.

Up to now his desire and hunger for scoring runs has been his most noteworthy asset and it would be great if he can take that mentality into the Essex dressing room and in turn I would expect others to feed off of that and improve their own game.

I also think that Ally can use Essex to improve his shot making ability with an eye on one-day cricket also.

All in all this should be a huge boost for Essex in their first attempt in the first division this season.

Ally’s successor in Joe Root was really the only serious candidate as he was in place as vice-captain and I would hope he would have the mental strength to take over at this still young age.

There is always a worry when appointing your best player as captain, and this is especially true with Joe as he has been the mainstay of our batting over the past three to four years.

I am sure he is the right choice and hope that all the extraneous pressures of being captain do not affect his batting.

We have not been renowned for our heavy scores in Test cricket and can ill afford a reduced output from the new captain.