One of the finest opener test cricket has ever seen has said Goodbye to Test Cricket after a disappointing series with India and a dismal run since last 9 months. The 5th test at Oval will be his last and that will conclude a great career and statistically the greatest, in English test setup. Cook who could barely score a total of 107 runs in the first 4 test matches of this series was fading, perhaps a tad too early but his retirement was inevitable. He scored nothing in the whole Ashes but kept his place with a magnificent 244 at MCG. There was nothing much to show before and after that knock. However, it doesn’t take anything away from the prolific career he has had at the top of the order for England.
Alastair started his Cricket career 12 years back, against India at Bangalore and geez, what a start that was! A magnificent 100 on a fairly difficult wicket. He then kept on going high in his career which marked the signs of a true legend. He was the architect of England’s Ashes win in Australia and a series win in India with bat. He played like a beast in these 2 series. Indian fans will still remember how much pain he gave to them in 2012 series where he was almost impossible to be dismissed on highly challenging wicket. The impact of his performance was such that people have him a solid chance of breaking Tendulkar’s test record in future.
” 15,000 runs and 50 test Hundreds are not beyond Cook’s reach” – Sunil Gavaskar
And not just Gavaskar, many felt the same. He had a robust technique which enabled him to succeed as an opener in English conditions where it takes a great deal of technique and temperament to survive against the both ways moving new ball let alone scoring. Once you conquer that challenge, your next biggest challenge as an English batsman is always to succeed in Asian conditions and he conquered this challenge by being the batsman with most test runs in Asia.
Evaluating Cook’s career statistically , he scored at an average of
43.75 in England with 13 Hundreds
51.46 in India with 5 Hundreds
48.94 in Australia with 5 Hundreds
31.80 in SA with 1 Hundred
27.54 in NZ with 1 Hundred
48.33 in Srilanka with 1 Hundred
55.16 in UAE against Pakistan with 1 Hundred
54.33 in West Indies with 2 Hundreds and
61.38 in Bangladesh with 2 Hundreds
Which clearly suggests that he excelled in tougher conditions against quality opposition and that was the reason behind longevity of his career. Only in NewZealand, his performance can be said below par. Talking about his performance against various opponents, Cook averaged against
Australia – 40.21 with 5 100s
India- 45.16 with 6 100s
NZ- 38.78 with 3 100s
SA- 35.08 with 2 100s
Pakistan – 49.11 with 5 100s
Srilanka- 53.75 with 3 100s
WI- 57.97 with 6 100s
Which means he scored against every opponent and everywhere and that makes him a complete batsman and one of the greats of the game. Although, at times he was quite boring to watch too. He’d bore you to sleep but that speaks of his temperament. He only hit 11 sixes throughout his entire career. Cook was very fit as well which can be shown with the fact that he played 158 tests on a continue basis, and over 13 tests every year on an average.
But Cook can not be termed as England’s Greatest of All Time because he was never so good in other formats. Cook played a total of 92 ODI matches where he averaged 36 with a strike rate of 77. He scored 5 100s and 19 50s there too which shows his consistency but he couldn’t adapt to the pace of other formats. Nevertheless, Test Cricket is most challenging of all and once being in a position to threaten Tendulkar’s record has to be a massive feat.
Cook as a Captain
Cook as a captain led England to a record 59 test matches, out of which he led England to victory 24 times which is second best after Michael Vaughan. 22 times his side finished as second best and 13 ended in a draw. Three massive achievement of Cook’s captaincy career were 2012 India series win, 2013 & 2015 Ashes win. He left once his side lost 4-0 to India in 2016.
Apart from his cricketing achievements, Cook will always be celebrated as one gentleman Cricketer of England and world with no controversy and a humble nature throughout the course of his career. Well played Alastair Cook, Thank you for playing this game so beautifully.