When we talk about the greatest batsmen in the world who have ever graced the lush green blades of grass, hardly anybody else comes to mind except the Australian great Sir Donald Bradman and India’s very own Sachin Tendulkar. However, there have been many other batsmen like Brian Lara, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting and Virat Kohli, more lately, but nobody has come even close to challenge the two icons who eternally sit at the pinnacle of everything in cricket.
With all respect to Sir Don Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar beat him by a mile in terms of longevity and the numbers that the Indian maestro had piled during his two-decade-long career, they are almost impossible to topple. However, there was one who threatened to smash all the long-standing records of Tendulkar but fell short of it after enduring a poor run of games in the final couple of years of his playing career. It was England’s Alastair Cook.
When Alastair Cook broke into the England cricket team at the age of 21, he exploded like a TNT. Not only he scored a masterful century in his debut Test match against India in 2006 but went on to score centuries in his first Test matches against Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh.
After posting 7 centuries in his first two years, Cook hit a snag in 2008 and his form waned. But he stormed back to form in the subsequent year and literally, never went out of form till 2013.
By the end of the 2013, Alastair Cook had already played 100 Test matches and was the captain of the England side. He had scored over 8,000 runs and sat at the summit in the list of most Test centuries scored by an England batsman with 25 tons.
Most notably, all the aforementioned achievements were under his cap at the age of 28. He was touted to do great things in his career and there was no dearth of his admirers in the cricketing community across the world.
Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar once said about Alastair Cook, “15,000 Test runs and 50 Test centuries are not beyond him.” Such was Cook’s influence on the game and his promise to the world.
However, to everyone’s surprise, Cook’s form waned and apparently, his fitness levels saw a downward spiral. From 2013 to 2018, the swashbuckling batsman played 59 Tests and could only manage to score 3,894 runs with just 7 tons.
He hit an all-time low in 2018 where he scored 298 runs at a poor average of 18.62. Even in the ongoing Test series against India in England, he has managed to collect a lowly 96 runs. On September 3, 2018, the 33-year-old English veteran announced that the fifth Test match against India will be his final competitive game for England and that he would retire from the international cricket.
In his 12-year long cricketing career, he became the most capped England player with 160 matches and captained the English team for a record 59 Tests. He is the all-time highest-scoring England batsmen with over 12,000 runs to his name and also holds the record for most centuries by an Englishman at 32 tons.
Taking into account the records he has accumulated in his career, Alastair Cook is arguably the greatest modern-age batsman England has ever produced and it will be very difficult for the young generation to topple his feats.
On the global front, if the English opener had maintained consistency in the past half-decade, he would have certainly rubbed shoulders with Sachin Tendulkar at the top. However, it should be noted that Sachin retired at the age of 40 while Cook bid adieu to the game at 33.
Here’s a quick comparison between Alastair Cook and Sahin Tendulkar’s Test records: