London : Alastair Cook was lauded as England’s “greatest ever player” by former opening partner Andrew Strauss during his final Test before international retirement.
Strauss, now the England and Wales Cricket Board director, addressed the England team before handing Cook a cap numbered 161 to mark the final international match of a 12-year international career.
Cook, who intends to continue playing for Essex, said: “It is a bit surreal at the moment, with all the adulation, but I am determined to go out and enjoy it — and I am determined to go out with a win. It has been a privilege to pull on the England shirt. I thank everyone for sharing my journey and my time in the team. It has been fantastic and I am a very lucky boy.”
Cook came into this match having scored 12,254 Test runs at an average of 44.88 including 32 hundreds. That average is not the highest by an England batsman, with Yorkshire opener Herbert Sutcliffe posting a mark of 60.73 in 54 Tests in the 1920s and 1930s.
Yet Strauss, perhaps out of understandable loyalty to his former opening partner, told Sky Sports when asked about Cook’s record: “That average, that consistency, the number of times he’s passed fifty and obviously the hundreds and the match-winning hundreds he’s got, all combine to make him England’s greatest player ever in my opinion.”
Cook scored a hundred on his Test debut, against India at Nagpur in 2006, and Virat Kohli, the current India captain, said at the toss: “We have seen too much of him sometimes. He has been a great player for England.”