Ed Joyce has stepped down from the Sussex captaincy a week after the club suffered relegation to Division Two of the Championship. Luke Wright, the T20 captain, is a leading candidate to take over in the other two formats next season although Sussex are yet to confirm Joyce's successor.
Joyce stepped up after Michael Yardy resigned midway through 2012 and oversaw consecutive third-placed finishes in the following two seasons. The Ireland opener passed 1000 first-class runs each time but struggled for form this year, with only one Championship century. He made scores of 2 and 1 as Sussex were beaten by Yorkshire in the final round to fall out of Division One.
"It has been an honour to captain Sussex for the last three-and-a half years," Joyce said. "I couldn't have asked for a more committed group of players and coaches to work with.
"We've had a very tough year in 2015 but despite this, we've received overwhelming support from the majority of fans and this shows the unity and family feeling that Sussex engenders.
"My increasing commitments with Ireland and the stage in my career that I'm at meant that the job this year became more a burden than a challenge to be relished. So the time is definitely right to hand over the reins to a new captain and whoever that is will have my full support. I'm also very determined to get back to scoring lots of runs and helping us back into the first division of the Championship and to performing much better in white-ball cricket.
"We have so much talent in the dressing room and so many good people throughout the club that I'm certain we'll bounce straight back from this season."
Joyce has another year on his Sussex contract to run and his experience at the top of the order should see him retain an important role, particularly after the retirement of Yardy.
Wright finished the season as Sussex's leading first-class run-scorer, with 1220, and also contributed more than 500 in the NatWest Blast as he captained them to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.
Sussex's cricket manager Mark Robinson said: "I'd like to thank Ed for all of his hard work and dedication that he has put into the job. He has always led the team with great integrity and commitment, and I'm sure that the new captain will appreciate having a player of the stature of Ed to be able to lean on for advice and support."