Melbourne: A month after he was disciplined during the disastrous tour of India, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson has stepped down as the team's vice-captain to focus his "attention on scoring runs and taking wickets".
"Making the decision to step down wasn't easy but it's something I've been thinking about since the Test series against India ended," Watson said in a statement.
"I think it's the right time for a change for both the team and me. I'll be honest and admit I wrestled with the decision for some time, however once I made up my mind, I informed Cricket Australia so the selectors could consider their options for the Ashes given the squads will be announced soon," he added.
Watson said he wants to focus on becoming a better player.
"I want to be the best Test player I can be for Australia and think I can do that by stepping down from the vice-captaincy to focus my attention on scoring runs, taking wickets and doing whatever is necessary to help the team achieve success.
"I won't be the vice-captain in title but I think I can still be a leader and strong contributor around the group," he said.
Watson said his captain Michael Clarke, coach Mickey Arthur and Cricket Australia were supportive of his decision to quit the post.
"Yesterday I rang John Inverarity, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke to advise them of my decision and they respect that decision and agree with me that this is the best outcome for me and the team.
"I thank Cricket Australia for the leadership opportunity over the past two years and I'm really looking forward to this next phase," Watson said.
"In my conversations with Mickey and Michael I reaffirmed my commitment to the team and support for them as we fight to win back the Ashes and get back to being ranked number one in the world," he added.
Cricket Australia National Selector John Inverarity said Watson would remain a central figure in the team despite his decision to step down as vice-captain.
"Shane Watson should be commended for making the tough call to step down from the vice-captaincy to focus on playing. Regardless, he will still be an important senior leader within the team," he said.
"The National Selection Panel (NSP) will now consider and then put a vice-captaincy recommendation to the Cricket Australia Board for its approval," he added.
Watson left the tour of India after he and three other Australian players were handed a one-match suspension for failing to submit a self-assessment report to Arthur.
He left India early to be with his wife, who was expecting the couple's first child.
The 31-year-old returned after the child's birth to captain Australia in the absence of an injured Clarke in the fourth Test, which the team lost by six wickets to go down 0-4 in the series.