Alastair Cook has stepped down as England's Test captain, having led the team on a record 59 occasions.
The opening batsman, who is England's leading test run scorer, revealed his decision this week after holding talks with his former opening partner, England and Wales Cricket Board's Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss.
Cook had hinted during the recent tour of India that the time may be right to step down and he also suggested that vice-captain Joe Root is "ready to lead".
However, rather than fall on his sword immediately in the aftermath of the 4-0 series defeat, Cook weighed up his decision before announcing: "Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team,.
"Playing for England really is a privilege and I hope to carry on as a Test player, making a full contribution and helping the next England captain and the team however I can."
Strauss said: "In my conversations with him in January it became clear that Alastair felt a huge amount of energy, drive and determination was needed to drive the team forward over the next 12 months.
"You are the only one who knows how much gas you have left in the tank and how much the many demands of being England captain are taking out of you."
Fans booking corporate hospitality for the England versus South Africa Test match at the Kia Oval this summer may have fond memories of Cook getting his hands on the Ashes urn twice at the ground, in 2013 and 2015.
Other triumphs included a series victory in South Africa when the two teams most recently met last winter, as well as a series win in India in 2012-13.
Low points included the recent India tour and an Ashes whitewash in 2013-14, but now Cook is free from the burden of captaincy, fans will hope he can produce something like his immense form of the 2010-11 series there when England defend the urn down under next winter.
Strauss refused to rule anyone in or out for the captaincy, but Joe Root is widely expected to land the job. The Yorkshireman is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world and he will need to deliver some captain's innings against the highly-rated South African attack this summer, whether or not he leads the side.
Not everyone advocates Root being made captain, with former England off-spinner Graeme Swann repeating the sentiments that he first expressed in his column for the Sun newspaper last summer that as "one of the lads" and the dressing room Joker, he would be best left to focus on his game rather than being burdened with the leadership role.
Others might suggest that captaincy will bring the best out of Root, who has spoken in the past about the need to convert more half centuries into centuries. If the job can help him produce more innings like his monumental 254 at Old Trafford against Pakistan last summer, the South Africans and West Indians could be in for a tough summer.