Alastair Cook retires: Highs & lows of England opener’s 12-year career
After Alastair Cook called time on his international career, we reflect on his highs and lows during 12 years at the top of world cricket.cricket Updated: Sep 03, 2018 23:47 IST
Alastair Cook will end his glittering international cricket career after the fifth Test between England and India.
The series finale at The Oval starts on Friday and will bring the curtain down on a 12-year career with England, during which he became his country’s all-time leading run scorer in the longest form of the game.
His time as a Test batsman began with a debut against India in March 2006, and more than a decade later the opener will bow out against the same opposition in what will surely be a celebration of his career in London.
Cook will undoubtedly want to conclude his career on a positive note, and here we look at some of the highs and the lows of his time at the top level of world cricket.
A dazzling debut
There are few more daunting places to make a Test debut than India, but Cook took to his task superbly on his bow in Nagpur. After scoring 60 in the first innings, Cook helped England take the game away from the hosts with a debut hundred, which was brought up in style as he thumped Harbhajan Singh through cover point. His unbeaten 104 put England in command, though they could not finish the job as they fell four wickets short of victory in the opening Test.
Australia demolished Down Under
England’s first Ashes series victory in Australia since 1987 owed greatly to the devastating form of Cook, whose performance with the bat in 2010-11 was beyond compare. He racked up 766 runs at an incredible average of 127.66, with three hundreds - including one double hundred - and two half-centuries. His second-innings 235 helped salvage a draw from the first Test, and he followed that with a 148 in the second as England cruised to an innings victory in Adelaide. A 3-1 series win was fittingly secured thanks to a 189 from Cook, who was deservedly named Man of the Series.
India misery ended with incredible series
Having been instrumental in ending England’s wait for an Ashes victory in Australia, Cook skippered England to another drought-ending triumph in 2012-13 as they prevailed in India for the first time since 1985. It was another Man of the Series showing from Cook, who compiled 562 runs and scored three centuries, his 190 at Eden Gardens crucial in giving England a 2-1 series lead they did not surrender.
Home Ashes domination
While Cook was unable to engineer an Ashes triumph in Australia in his time as captain, he did oversee England’s domination of the series on home soil. While Cook was often criticised for his captaincy style, Australia won just two Tests in England during his time as skipper, with one of those victories coming after the 2015 series had already been wrapped up.
Cook’s sole series as captain in Australia in 2013-14 was a nightmarish experience for England. The tourists only once scored 300 as Mitchell Johnson tormented them with the ball, Jonathan Trott went home after the first Test citing a stress-related illness, spinner Graeme Swann retired after the series was lost at the WACA and the ECB effectively ended Kevin Pietersen’s career after a chastening 5-0 rout was completed.
A 2014 ‘annus horriblis’
There was no let up for Cook following England’s Ashes humiliation. After the fall-out from Pietersen’s dismissal by the ECB, Cook was dropped from the limited-overs team ahead of the 2015 World Cup before overseeing England’s first home series defeat to Sri Lanka. They did rebound to claim a series win over India, but only after Ishant Sharma’s bewitching Lord’s performance had piled the pressure on.
Sorry tour of subcontinent
Cook stood down as captain after a dismal tour of the subcontinent for England. A two-match series with Bangladesh saw England suffer a first ever Test defeat to the minnows, which was followed by a 4-0 pummelling at the hands of India, who capped off the series by scoring 795-7 in their only innings - the hosts’ highest score in Tests and the most runs made against England by any team - overshadowing Cook’s achievement of becoming the youngest player to reach 11,000 runs in Tests.
A late-career slump
The closing stages of Cook’s career have been defined by a loss of form. Save for a 244 in the fourth Ashes Test in December in which he carried his bat, Cook has been unable to find his brilliant best, averaging 27.17 across series with Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and India. Announcing his retirement, Cook acknowledged he has “nothing left in the tank”, and he will look to draw on some reserves and turn around his form for his final Test.
First Published: Sep 03, 2018 22:58 IST