By Jack Vavasour
On Monday 3rd of September, the cricketing world received the news that ex-England captain Alastair Cook is to retire from Test match cricket after England’s final game in the series against India.
Where to begin with Alastair Cook’s career – a true great of English cricket, a record breaker, a man who, in the age of Twenty20 cricket, conquered and dominated the longest form of the game where others continued to falter around him, failing to adapt. A player seemingly irreplaceable, England will struggle to find anyone to fill his shoes.
Cook made his England debut against India, as a last-minute replacement for the injured Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, who was suffering from stress. The then 21-year-old made an accomplished debut scoring, in his first innings, a half century followed by an unbeaten maiden Test century on debut, in the second. He played again in the second test but missed the third through illness, since then he has not missed a Test match for England, playing in 158 consecutive games for his country, a world-record.
To put that into perspective, it has been twelve years since you could watch England play Test cricket without seeing Cook at the crease, with over fifty other players making their debuts in that time. Cook’s greatest moment whilst playing for the three Lions came in the 2010/11 Ashes as he dominated the series, scoring 766 runs with an average of 127.66. This would prove to cement Cook in the hearts of English supporters and prove him to be amongst the best in the World as England won their first series in Australia since 1987.
In August 2012, Cook took over the captaincy from opening partner Andrew Strauss, when Strauss retired. He would go onto lead England to two more Ashes victories, he captained England in a record 59 Test matches, before handing the captaincy onto Joe Root in 2016 after a disastrous tour of Bangladesh and India.
Prior to this Cook had broken England’s scoring record when he surpassed Graham Gooch’s 8,900 runs in 2015. Cook followed this by becoming the first Englishman, and youngest player ever, to surpass 10,000 Test runs in 2016.
Currently enduring his worst year in Test cricket,
Cook has decided to call time on his career, his achievements are unmatched by
any Englishman in his era or any era before. The sheer amount of records he
holds and the amount of time he has spent playing at the highest level truly
puts him amongst the greatest players of all time. Known for his endurance at
the crease and ability to bat for hours and hours on end, often proving
critical to his side.
His consistency in the Test team is made more impressive by the fact that he
has had twelve opening partners since Strauss’ retirement and has still managed
to perform time and time again, despite not having a regular partnership on
which to build.
Now England face the great task of trying to replace their most successful
batsman in history, this will be no easy task after twelve years of Cook at the
helm. However, Cook’s decision comes at the perfect time with Rory Burns
scoring relentlessly at County level and perhaps Cook believes that a
completely new opening partnership might flourish better than someone merely
being another stop on the merry-go-round of Cook’s partners.
Furthermore, Cook retires on the back of a series win over the number one Test
team in the World, India. For a man who has achieved everything, this seems
like the perfect time to go.
Cook is a classical Test match batsman in a time where they seem impossible to
find, as a man who, apparently, does not sweat he has become the perfect opener
in a game combining both patience and skill. His patience has paid off,
finishing with thirty-two Test match centuries, nine more than his closest
Test cricket will not be the same without him, but how honoured we can be to have been able to witness the brilliance of such a unique and wonderful athlete.