Ricky Ponting has resigned as Australia captain but wants to carry on playing for the team.
The 36-year-old made the announcement in Sydney after arriving home following his side's World Cup quarter-final defeat by co-hosts India.
"I have decided to stand down as captain of the Test and one-day teams as of now," he told a news conference.
Michael Clarke, who has deputised for Ponting in several matches, is tipped to replace him as captain.
Ponting took over the one-day captaincy in 2002 and the Test captaincy from Steve Waugh in 2004 and statistically has been Australia's most successful skipper.
Under his leadership, the team won 48 out 77 Tests, 16 of them in a row between December 2005 and January 2008, and 163 out of 227 one-day internationals, including the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.
But his captaincy career also included three Ashes series defeats by England, the most recent during the winter, and their failure to win a fourth successive World Cup may have hastened his departure.
However, the Tasmanian insisted it was not a case of him jumping before being pushed.
"I'll absolutely go on record here to say that I've had absolutely no tap on the shoulder. This is a decision that's been wholly and solely made by me and people close to me," he said.
"I am really excited about the next chapter in my career - I think I've got a lot to offer as a player and certainly as a leader for some of the younger players around, if and when required," he said.
If as expected, Clarke is named as his successor, he will take charge for next month's tour to Bangladesh and Ponting said that was a key factor in the timing of his decision.
"I wanted to make sure that the person coming in had as much time as possible to get themselves prepared and get their focus on where they want the team to go," he added.
Despite his remarkable captaincy record, Ponting was not universally popular and had to suffer criticism from former players, particularly about the three Ashes series losses.
"It's funny how we talk about losing the Ashes series three times. Playing on three World Cup winning teams doesn't come up very often, winning 16 consecutive Test matches doesn't come up very much, winning 30-odd consecutive World Cup matches doesn't come up very often.
"I know within myself what I've achieved in the game and I'm very proud of it," he said.
Cricket Australia have confirmed that a new captain will be named on Wednesday and Ponting has given his backing to Clarke, who stood in for him in the final Ashes Test and for the one-day series against England that followed it.
"He's done a terrific job in almost every game he's captained Australia. I totally would endorse Michael Clarke as the next captain."
Aussie spin bowling great Shane Warne, went one further, saying on his Twitter feed : "Congrats to Michael Clarke on his appointment as skipper of Australia - I believe and know he will do a great job."
Looking to the future, Ponting is adamant that he still has the passion to continue representing his country, and says he hopes to play in Bangladesh and on the Test tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year.
"I proved to myself the other day [when he made 104 in the World Cup quarter-final defeat to India] that I've still got what it takes to play a good international innings.
"Now that I won't have all the extra responsibility of the captaincy, I think I can turn myself into a better player than I've shown in the last six months."
Ponting also admitted that he wants to be involved when Australia try to re-claim the Ashes in England in 2013.
"I think that if I'm mentally fresh and have got my skills in reasonable order then I'll be able to certainly bat better than I have in the past six months.
"So I won't ever write that off because I'd love to go back there again and give it a crack at winning another Ashes series in England, but we'll wait and see how my form is in the immediate future."
Reflecting on the retirements of Australia's golden generation of players - notably Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist - Ponting said that such a huge loss in such a short period, had made it difficult to regroup.
"What I don't think you can ever afford to have in the team is to have a mass exodus of all these sort of players at once.
"I think we've seen that in the last couple of years when we had a lot of greats move on at one time. It left us very bare. It's been hard for us to re-build and get ourselves back to where we want to as a result of that," he added.