Alastair Cook : The unsung hero from England

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Alastair Cook of England heads to bat during the 2nd NatWest Test match between England and Pakistan at Headingley on June 1, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Opening the batting is arguably the toughest job in test match cricket. Unlike the other batsmen, the openers do not have the luxury of making merry against a much older ball. The performances of the openers often set the tone for rest of the innings. One such stoic opener was Sir Alastair Cook. He had been a dominant force for England at the top of the order throughout his career.

Sir Alastair Cook might not be a pretentious opening batsman but he was a batsman who was able to bat for sustained time periods. He had a natural ability to consume deliveries at will. For more than a decade, Sir Alastair Cook’s contribution to England has been phenomenal.

The Glorious test career started with a century against India and ended with a century against the same opposition. Now it’s time to look back at his achievements and determine just how important a player he has been for England over the years.

Overall Statistics :

Cook made his test debut against India in 2006 at Nagpur. He scored a century and became the sixteenth English cricketer to score a ton on Test debut. Below, we will analyse Alistair Cook’s overall record.

Cook is the only opener to cross the ten thousand run mark in test cricket. He is the fastest player to reach 10000 runs in terms of time. With more than 12000 test runs and 33 centuries under his belt, he is one of the greatest English batsmen to have ever played the game. But he is relatively underappreciated, in terms of his achievements in this current era of cricket.

Cook was one of the few players threatening to exceeded Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 15921 runs. If Cook had continued to score at his career average of 45.35, it would have taken him three and a half more years to surpass Sachin Tendulkar. But he called time on his career at the age of just 33.

Opening batsmen who average greater than 45 are often deemed to have a healthy batting average. Cook’s batting average has fluctuated throughout his career. His average fell below 45 between his 20th and his 60th test match. Post his 60th test match, he managed to maintain his overall average over 45 until he retired.

Alistair Cook was in prime form between the years 2010 and 2012. In this time, he accumulated 3463 runs from 37 matches at a whopping average of 58.69. He also scored his highest test score of 294 vs India in 2011.

Record overseas and in Asia

It is also perceived that performing away from home is harder than performing at home, due to the minimal knowledge of overseas conditions that a player has. However, Cook averaged 45.64 away from home but only 44.38 at home. This means that he was an opener who could adapt to a variety of conditions during his career.

Alistair Cook is second only to Graeme Smith in terms of batting averages abroad. Plus, he has a very impressive record in Asian conditions. He has scored over 2000 runs at an impressive average of 52.52 in Asian conditions. This means that he was a prolific player of spin – given the struggles great batsmen have had in the past.

Also read: How England’s test team is correcting past mistakes, Varun Desai

Best Moments of his career :

  • Breaching the Indian Fortress :  

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Most of the touring parties find Indian conditions difficult to accustom. But the side headed by Alastair Cook produced an astonishing performance in Indian soil. Despite losing the first match at Ahmedabad, they clinched the series with a margin 2-1. Alaistair Cook accumulated 562 runs from 4 matches.

He scored three centuries in that series. His 176 in Ahmedabad came in a losing cause. In the second test at Mumbai, He scored a brilliant 122 in the first innings. They went on to win that Test by ten wickets. In the third test, he fell ten runs short of a magnificent double hundred.

After this series, none of the touring teams managed a secure a series win in India. Australia Started their series in Pune with a ten-wicket win but ended up losing the series 1-2.

  • 235* vs Australia in 2010 at Brisbane :

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The 2010/11 Ashes series turned out to be a historic one. England dominated Australia in their backyard. Alastair Cook had a dream run as he went onto top score in the series with 767 runs at a staggering average of 127. Cook smashed a remarkable 235* in the first test which broke Sir Donald Bradman’s record at the ground and helped England draw at Brisbane.

He backed up his heroics in the first test with a splendid 148 at Adelaide -helping England win by an innings. He finished the series by scoring a brilliant 189 in the New Year’s Test at the SCG. Due to his performances, England won the series 3-1.

  • 294 vs India in 2011 :

After clinching the Ashes series at Australian shore, England whitewashed India in England. 2011 was a dream run for England. In the first two tests, Cook failed. But he came back with marathon innings of 294 in the third test. England scored 710 runs in their first innings. They gave India an Innings defeat.

  • 263 against Pak in UAE :

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Cook’s innings of 263 versus Pakistan in UAE was arguably his best innings. Having been sent in to bat, Cook scored a fabulous double century withstanding the extreme heat. He helped England score 599 in their first innings. Cook batted for an astounding 836 minutes and drained Pakistan bowlers. England would have won the match had bad light not interrupted.

During his young age, Alastair Cook excelled at music as well as singing. He carried his tunes into his 12-year long cricketing career as well. Cook retired at the age of 33. At 33, it may seem a bit too soon to hang up the boots.

The one aspect that separated Cook from other openers is that he could occupy the crease for sustained time periods because he had a solid defence. Overall, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest openers to have played the game.

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