Tim May, who was last month controversially ousted from an International Cricket Council players' committee amid allegations of pressure from India, said he was tired of battling the governing body.
"More and more we see allegations of corruption and malpractice on and off the field dominating headlines," he said, stepping down as the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) chief.
"As stakeholders in the game we look to leadership from the ICC to address these and other issues.
"A vital ingredient of any organisation is the ability of its leaders to set the moral and principled example to others, and to police its organisation from top to bottom to ensure adherence to those principles.
"Yet cricket increasingly seems to be pushing aside the principles of transparency, accountability, independence, and upholding the best interests of the global game, in favour of a system that appears to operate through threats, intimidation and backroom deals."
When the Australian former Test off spinner was replaced as a players' representative on the ICC cricket committee by India's Laxman Sivaramakrishnan last month, FICA suggested there had been ballot "fixing".
It claimed a run-off between May and Sivamarakrishnan was not conducted fairly, with some national boards exerting undue pressure on their captains to back the Indian.
The ICC cricket committee makes recommendations on issues including the umpire Decision Review System (DRS), which May has pushed to be used in all international series.
Opposition from the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) means it is not used in contests involving India.
May has previously challenged all national cricket boards on issues ranging from tour scheduling to the Woolf report, which tried to revamp ICC governance but was rejected by India.
His decision to stand down was greeted with sadness by Australian captain Michael Clarke and former skipper Ricky Ponting, who hailed his crucial role in improving player conditions worldwide.
"From a player's perspective, his influence on the game should never be forgotten. It's difficult to imagine where the players of today would be without Tim May's contribution," said Clarke.
Ponting called him "a pioneer in every way".
"Thanks to him, players are now receiving a fair share of the game's revenues and have a great peace of mind knowing that the various Player Associations around the world have the expertise, support and leadership that Tim has created," he said.
May said it had been a privilege working on behalf of players but "over the past 18 months or so, I came to the realisation that I was tiring of working in a sport that was increasingly at odds with the principles I respect".
"Increasingly the administrators of the game seek to force out or alienate those who question its alleged misuse of power, or those who seek greater transparency, or provide rational argument against the ills of the administration," he said.
"It appears that some administrators just don't want to be held to account to the standards that are expected of them."
He added: "I trust that my successor will enjoy a climate where those on the ICC Executive Board who are strong and principled, will push for change and remember the primary responsibilities of an ICC director - to serve the best interests of the global game."