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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Saturday 30 May 2020
VVS Laxman says that the very moment he saw a young Alastair Cook debut against India at Nagpur in 2006, he knew that the left-hander was a very special talent. Same was Alex Tudor's observation after he joined Essex.
It is remarkable for a man who scored half of his runs through either back foot punches or clips off the hip to reach where no other English batsman has reached ever before, or after. Even five years later, Joe Root is the closest to his tally of 12,472 with 7,599 runs among active England batsmen.
Alastair Cook went on to become the fastest English cricketer to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 Test runs. He did not stop at that and also became the youngest Test cricketer from around the world to reach the 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 run milestones.
That said, over the last couple of years of his career, Cook was not the same batsman that he was in the first half. He averaged only 28.66 from 10 Test matches in 2018. His numbers in 2017 may seem a whole lot better with an average of 47.31 from 20 innings but the truth is that the figure swelled due to two double centuries - 244 not out and 243. If you to remove those, the left-hander had nothing much to show over that period as well.
Be that as it may, Cook made the most of his ability. He was one player who guaranteed to give it his all, be it on a good day or bad day. When Cook became the 12th international player to top 10,000 runs in Test cricket in June 2016, he was still 31 years old and many became interested in whether or not the batsman had it in him to beat Sachin Tendulkar's tally off 15,921 Test runs.
"The 10,000 has been a milestone that has driven me over the last few years," Cook said after joining the elite club. "You get tested at the top of the order in all conditions against the best bowlers bowling with the new ball and I'm glad I have hung around long enough not to get dropped. I never thought I would get 10,000. Now I will have to have a rethink and set something else personally. You need something tucked away to drive you to get up go running in the morning or bat in the nets with Goochy. I am still hungry to achieve stuff."
It might sound counter-intutive but the biggest disadvantage for Cook was that he was playing only one format of the game, after being sacked as ODI captain just before the 2015 World Cup. Those who have retired from one format and continue playing either only Tests or T20Is will tell you that it might extend their career but it is not the easiest thing to do as you can have a long time away from the intensity of international cricket. It makes it very tough to get right back to your best in international colours.
Under his leadership, England won a Test series in India in 2012-2013 - the team's first series victory on Indian soil in 28 years. He went on to lead England to Ashes victories in 2013 and 2015 which were the high points of his careers. Cook was knighted shortly after his retirement and holds the extinction of becoming the first England cricketer to receive the honour after Ian Botham.
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