The Alastair Cook retirement, announced on September 3 has been coming. Here’s what we’ll miss about the great man.
Alastair Cook retirement: Records everywhere
Cook announced he’s retiring from international duty after the Fifth Test against India starting on Friday at The Oval, the final one of a Series England have already won.
It will be his 161st Test match. That’s a record for an Englishman. He’s now scored 32 Test centuries. That’s a record, too. For good measure, it puts him 11th on the list of cricketers with most Test tons.
It also puts him sixth on the list of highest run-scorers of all time. The five above him read like a who’s who of Test match legends: Tendulkar, Ponting, Dravid, Kallis, Sangakarra. Add Cook and bring Bradman back from the dead and that’s probably your Dream Test Match Top 7 right there.
That makes him England’s most prolific run-scorer of all time. And by some margin. He’s over 3000 runs ahead of his Essex mentor Graham Gooch, the next best.
The England v India 5th Test starts on Friday. On Betfair England are 1.8 (4/5) to win, with the draw at 9/2 (5.5) and India 21/10 (3.1).
It will be Cook’s final international appearance, our last chance to see a man who was quiet and polite man in everything he did without a bat in hand yet ruthless, calculating and deadly with willow under wrist.
5 things we’ll remember and savour about Alastair Cook
- He didn’t miss a game– Cook played 158 Test matches in a row. That’s a world record. Think about what it means. Over the course of 12 years he wasn’t dropped, never got injured, didn’t opt out of a Tour to rest, didn’t excuse himself for personal reasons. Selfless, dedicated, professional.
- He didn’t sweat – As he walked off the pitch in baking, draining, polluted conditions in Mumbai, Galle or Chittagong after yet another patient century, he may have been forgiven for muttering under his breath ‘No sweat. It was a good pitch.’ But remarkably, Cook doesn’t actually sweat. Despite often being at the crease for hours on end, 610 of them in total throughout his career, he doesn’t actually sweat a drop. Anhidrosis is the medical term for the condition, which can actually be dangerous because it deprives you from cooling your own body. They may have to rename it ‘Cook’s condition’.
- He never fell out with anyone – Some may say that in his time as skipper it wouldn’t have killed him to be a bit more aggressive in terms of field placings, declarations and hostility towards the opposition. But for every confrontational captain like Virat Kohli or Ricky Ponting, there needs to be an Inzamam Ul-Haq or Alastair Cook. Cook was a gentleman. It says it all that despite sharing a dressing room with Kevin Pietersen for almost a decade, including being in charge when KP was sacked, there was never a proper fall-out between the two. Not even Andrew Strauss can claim that.
- He only had three shots– AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli are famous for scoring 360 degrees round the ground thanks to an array of flicks, nudges, drives, reverse sweeps, dabs and whatever else. Cook basically only had three attacking shots to go with that stonewall forward defensive: the leg side flick, the back-foot cut and very occasionally, the off-drive. It says something about his patience, discipline and will that he scored that many runs basically just using those shots.
- He’s the only decent opener England have had in a long time – Cook famously had 12 different opening partners since Strauss retired. The latest is Keaton Jennings (for a second time) and he looks set to be axed after this Series, too. That long list is testament to what a hard job it is to open in Test cricket, perhaps even more so for England in English conditions. That Cook was always there at the top was at least one sort of safety blanket you had in your favour. Now rather than England having to fill one spot, they have to fill two. The second one may never be adequately filled again.
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