Back in 2006, when Alastair Cook was drafted into the England side as a third choice opener in the tour of India, not many had an idea of what would follow.
Cook showed his class and temperament in his very first match in Nagpur against India. The southpaw played a wonderful innings and scored a century in his debut. And that set the bar for the ex Essex player.
Normally it isn’t easy to be a test opener in England, with the ball swinging both ways equally and it requires adequate quality for a player to survive. But it can be very well said that Cook was blessed with quite a patient and robust technique. What differentiates Cook from other batsmen is the ability and determination to play long innings. It always seemed that he was not happy with just a century and as if he was there to stay on the pitch for as long as possible. He has always been hailed because of his ‘daddy’ centuries.
The immaculate technique combined with an ever patient character helped Cook to even succeed in the subcontinental conditions. It is always said that subcontinental pitches are a English batsman’s nightmare. But this saying didn’t go true with Cook. He has over 1100 runs in India and was the highest run-getter when England toured in 2012 and helped them clinch a memorable series victory. Australia, too, is a daunting place for the English because of the rivalry that dates back to over a hundred years. But again Cook had had his answers. He was the highest run scorer in the 2010 Ashes down under and helped English retain the Ashes. The standout innings in that series was the 235* he scored at Brisbane.
Till 2013, Cook had a fantastic record in the tests. But slowly his form faded away. After a miserable Ashes, which England lost 5-0 in Australia, Cook failed to get runs under his belt consistently. While once the record of Sachin Tendulkar’s most centuries and highest run-getter in tests was in his eyeline, his inability to score runs derailed him off the track. And since then Cook has not been the same batsman he used to be. Despite getting big double hundreds in Abu Dhabi and Australia, Cook couldn’t repeat his heroics like before and consistently got out for low scores. However he led his side to a memorable series victory in South Africa in 2016. But after England were unable to beat Pakistan in home, Cook finally decided to give up the captaincy.
But these recent low scores do not deny the fact that Cook remains the greatest English batsman to ever play tests for the Nation. With 12,472 runs to his name he is the Englishman with the highest runs in test cricket. He is also the top scoring left-hander in Test cricket. When Hanuma Vihari dismissed him yesterday for the score of 147, Cook became the fifth ever batsman to score a century in his debut as well in his farewell match. Alastair Cook will always remain a legend of the game and cricket would genuinely miss him and his gritty marathon knocks.
Take a look at Cook’s hundred in the final test innings: