Cook signifies all that is good about cricket
What do you want when your career as a professional sportsman ends? It is about records, it is about what you have achieved throughout your career. But more than that it is about you as a person. It is about what you have given to the game. In what spirit did you play the game? How did you treat your teammates and opponents?
On each of these fronts, Cook gets a double thumbs up. He is right up the alley of legends of the game like Rahul Dravid and Kumar Sangakkara who played the game like it should be played. Both on and off the field, Cook has been a brand ambassador of the spirit of cricket. With a smiling face and a calm demeanour, he has allowed his bat to do the talking.
Former cricketers queuing up to laud
Former cricketers and colleagues from all over the world are queuing up with heaps of praise for the former English captain. What more can you ask for?
Former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote, "No player has given more to the England cricket shirt .. No player has got more out of there ability .. No player has shown more mental strength than Alastair Cook .. More than that he is the nicest Cricketer we have ever had .. Thanks for all the memories Cookie"
"Right from the time he made his debut against us in Nagpur, knew that he is a very special talent and will have a huge role to play in English Cricket. I wish to congratulate Alastair Cook on a wonderful career for England," VVS Laxman said.
Others were kind with their words as well:
Alastair Cook retires from international cricket ?? He gave it everything and more. Huge respect for a guy that has achieved so much, it was a pleasure being out in the middle when you… https://t.co/bvgK9DgUkA— Paul Collingwood (@Colly622) September 3, 2018
1/2 When I 1st saw Cooky when I joined @EssexCricket I knew then we would not see him to much. A very impressive young man who has stayed grounded all the way through his glittering International career, aways loves playing for his County Essex. He deserves a massive send off— Alex Tudor (@alextudorcoach) September 3, 2018
2/2 @surreycricket for his final Test, it has been an absolute pleasure firstly playing with you & see you over the years grow into the player & person you have become???? congrats on the career fella you have done @englandcricket very proud indeed ???? #CookRetires— Alex Tudor (@alextudorcoach) September 3, 2018
Maximising his abilities
There are those like Joe Root and Virat Kohli whom you see and know right away that they are something special. And then, there are those like Alastair Cook who may not be the most gifted players on the earth but with their resolve, determination and untiring hard work, they become the best version of themselves.
To make the most of what you have, this is the true personification of cricket. In fact, this is the true personification of life. Self admittedly, Cook is not the most talented batsman but with his persistence and grit, he scored more Test runs for England than any of those talented batsmen who existed before him.
Throughout his 12-13 year long career, he had two typical shots in his book- one the flick off his hips and other the cut cum punch off the back foot. He would have scored more than half of his runs through these two shots. The trick then is to know your limitations and work around it.
The two highlights of a prolific career
In all this, one must not forget that he shouldered the responsibility of captaining the side over all these years. This, by any stretch of the imagination, is not a mean task. We have seen several greats of the game struggle under the burden of leadership and lose their mojo in the process.
However, there are others who prosper with the added responsibility and Cook was certainly one of them. He marshalled his troops with dignity and helped to extract the best out of them. The 2015 Ashes win and the Test series win against India in India after more than 20 years are the two shining lights of his prolific career.
Ending on a 'high'
"That edge had kind of gone. The stuff I'd found easy before wasn't quite there. That to me that was the biggest thing. Once the decision is in your mind, you ask people about it along the way and they say 'when you know, you know' and I honestly think that's so true. For me, anyway," Cook said in his last press conference as an England cricketer.
However, he added in the same breath that he wanted to contribute to the team in his last Test and if he can end on a high, nothing like it. And boy did he end on a high!
His 71-run knock in the first innings was both sweet and sour. Sweet because he succeeded in notching up a 50 and sour because he was closing in on a century when he chopped on.
That being said, he more than made up for it in the second innings with a colossal score of 147. How many batsmen have managed to achieve that in their last test?
Cook became only the fifth batsman to smash a century in both his first and last match, joining an elite club. With 218 runs in his last Test, Cook has certainly ended on a high.
What's 'cook'ing for the future
He is committed to be back playing for his county Essex after a break. The fact that he will still continue for the side shows that the hunger to score more runs and the will to contribute still remains. This may also lead to an all-new revelation of another phase of his white ball domestic career.
The 33-year-old is also reported to be in touch with TalkSport for a commentary stint for the 2019-20 South Africa series as the enterprise is expecting to bag the rights for the series. However, nothing is final as of now.
After his 147-run knock, as Alastair Nathan Cook walked back towards the pavilion for one last time, the crowd at The Oval just could not stop clapping. Arguably one of the greatest England batsman and the highest run-getter for his country in Tests, Alastair Cook deserved every bit of it and more. Thanks a lot Chef, you will be missed!
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