Been one hell of a journey: Cook

It couldn't have been a better way to finish for Alastair Cook.

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 11.09.18
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FANTASTIC CAREER: India captain Virat Kohli congratulates Alastair Cook as Hanuma Vihari waits for his turn after the former England captain was dismissed for 147 in his last Test innings, at The Oval, on Monday. Ajinkya Rahane is also in the frame. (Reuters)

Calcutta: It couldn't have been a better way to finish for Alastair Cook.

He not just scored a magnificent century, an innings that was typical of the former captain, but he and Joe Root - the other centurion in England's second innings at The Oval - also took their team to such a position that they are very well placed to beat India in the ongoing final Test and win the series 4-1.

It also turned out to be one of the rare occasions as Cook finished his career with a half-century and a hundred in his final Test, just as he had in his debut Test. That too was against India, in Nagpur back in 2006.

After the end of proceedings on Day 4, Cook reflected on "dreams coming true" after he signed off as an England batsman with a hundred in his final Test innings. Cook was obviously given a standing ovation as he walked back to the pavilion as a Test batsman for one last time, falling off the bowling of debutant Hanuma Vihari after hitting 147, finishing with 33 centuries.

The opener also moved up to fifth on the list of all-time Test run scorers after topping Kumar Sangakkara to end his career with 12,472 runs.

In an interview to Sky Sports, he said: "Ever since my England retirement was announced, I hoped I had a good week. To top it off with a score here is just incredible. Sometimes dreams come true and it certainly was a dream finish.

"On a purely selfish level, even at the end, fielding at short leg with the Barmy Army singing, it's why you play sport - occasionally those little selfish moments. It was very special. It's just been a great week.

"It was a 'don't get out for nought' game for me," added Cook, who struck 71 in England's first innings in the English capital. "I didn't really think about the hundred until I got into the 80s and I felt I had a chance.

"It was very emotional. There was definitely a lump in my throat with that ovation. I had about 30 friends here and family, so you couldn't have scripted it. It's one of those days where you will look back and forever go 'Wow'.

Joe Root celebrates his century with Alastair Cook

"I remember seeing Nasser (Hussain) score a hundred in his final Test and I thought: 'What a great way to finish!' For me to say the last time I batted for England and I got a hundred is indeed special... Special way to finish it off..."

On beating Sangakkara's haul of 12,400 Test runs, Cook said: "It means a lot to see your name up there, but it's not what you strive to play for.

"It's hundreds, winning moments and spending time with and developing a team. It has been one hell of a journey."

Cook says his 33rd hundred, which put him in outright 10th on the list of all-time century makers, has not caused him to rethink retirement.

"I will miss playing with great players and sitting in the changing room, but the timing is right and it just makes this more special," added Cook, whose long list of achievements includes four Ashes victories, including two as captain.

"It's such a nice way personally for me to go. This wasn't just what's happened in this series - it has been an 18-month process and probably started last year against West Indies when I started noticing things in my game and my preparation.

"That edge isn't there, but it doesn't mean you haven't got it sometimes. When it's your day, you can still score runs," Cook signed off.

Nasser Hussain, another former England captain, also lauded Cook for his brilliant finish. But he also expressed his worry over England being yet to find a proper substitute for Cook, something that could trouble them in their next Test series, an away one against Sri Lanka.

"When you're trying to select a side for Sri Lanka, it's blatantly obvious how important Cook is well before he goes! He's a fantastic player of spin and England are going to a country where it spins from ball one.

"Now in Sri Lanka, they might not be looking for one new opener. They're probably looking for two," Hussain wrote in his column for Sky Sports.

Hussain added: "This week has shown that it isn't that Cook can't do it anymore. It's whether he really wants to. Does he really want to go to the well again and again and again? He has come to the conclusion that he doesn't want to do that.

"I don't blame him to be honest, 161 Test matches, 159 in a row, takes it out of you."