Alastair Cook - The Story and Tribute



Last week saw the announcement of the retirement from international cricket of Alastair Nathan Cook after 12 and a half years of representing England.

His batting style did not possess the elegance of Mahela Jayawardene, the textbook technique of Jacques Kallis or the brutal flamboyance of AB de Villiers but what he had throughout his career was a sound defensive technique, defiance and mental strength in abundance.

A tall man, he was always a natural and dismissive cutter and puller as well as being ruthless when the bowlers bowled too straight. Cook was never as aesthetically pleasing as some of his contemporaries, and he never tried to be, but he did slowly but surely improve as a batsman throughout his career, away from his rather rigid style that he had at the beginning of his test career.

For me personally when Cook first came into the England team it was a nice reminder of when I grew up watching Mike Atherton at the top of the England lineup. Atherton was my hero as a kid and as far as I’m concerned criminally underrated. He was a hero because of his resilience, defiance and over my dead body attitude to batting, so when a shy and youthful lad came along who exhibited the same characteristics I was most definitely intrigued by what we might have on our hands.

The first time I can remember hearing about Cook was during the greatest summer of my life – 2005. It was the year I left high school and I was enjoying one of the most extraordinary sporting events that any in this country have witnessed – the 2005 Ashes.

It was September of that year and England fans were cock-a-hoop as their cricketing heroes were 2-1 up in the Ashes. Australia needed to win the 5th and final test just to regain the Ashes whilst England needed a draw or win to win their first Ashes since 1986/87.

Australia’s warm up in for that 5th test was against Essex at Chelmsford as they looked to build some sort of form and confidence ahead of the vital final test. However, a baby faced 20-year-old by the name of Alastair Cook smacked them to all parts by hitting 214 off 238 balls. Not a strike rate you usually associate with Cook…

He shared partnerships of 140 and 270 with Will Jefferson and Ravi Bopara respectively. Safe to say it wasn’t the last time he shared a big partnership or got a double ton against Australia! He finished the 2005 season (this 200 didn’t count towards his overall stats) with an average of 48.03 with four hundreds, earning him a spot on England’s tour to Pakistan in late 2005 as cover for Michael Vaughan.

He did not play on that tour but was called up during England’s tour of India as a replacement for Marcus Trescothick who was suffering from a stress related illness. Showing a calmness that belied his age and what would be so part of his makeup to this day as well as showing he was no novice to playing spin. He made 2 battling knocks of 60 and 102* on his debut.

Cook failed in the 2nd test and was injured for the 3rd test. That 3rd test at Mumbai, although no-one of course knew it at the time, would be incredibly significant as it was the last test England would play without Alastair Cook in the lineup. Cook played 161 tests in his career with 159 played consecutively – a record he took off Allan Border.