“Today I am announcing my retirement and the end of my career as a professional cricketer,” Cook said in a statement on the Essex website.
“It is not easy to say goodbye. For more than two decades, cricket has been so much more than my job. It has allowed me to experience places I never dreamed I would go, be part of teams that have achieved things I would never have thought possible and, most importantly, created deep friendships that will last a lifetime.
“From the eight-year-old boy who first played for Wickham Bishops Under 11s to now, I end with a strange feeling of sadness mixed with pride. Although above all, I am incredibly happy.
“It is the right time for this part of my life to come to an end. I have always given absolutely everything I possibly have to be the best player I could be, but now I want to make way for the new generation to take over.”