Cook: I walk away with head held high

Bidding adieu: Alastair Cook acknowledges the cheers of teammates and the crowd after his final Test, at The Oval, on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Calcutta: Alastair Cook wanted James Anderson to lead the England team off the ground after the latter took the final Indian wicket, as England registered a 4-1 series win by wrapping up the final Test at The Oval by 118 runs.

But Anderson declined. Probably he was right in doing so as the occasion belonged more to Alastair Cook, who had a fairy-tale script written for him in his farewell game and last day at the England dressing room.

Cook, signing off in a befitting manner by winning the Man-of-the-Match award, spoke to Michael Atherton about his perfect ending, his memories, the ovation he received after scoring a century on Day 4 of this Test and so on. But just as he was asked whether he could consider coming back from retirement, Cook minced no words to say: "Not a chance... I walk away with my head held high and I have always wanted to do that."


On the perfect ending

Yeah, it has been the most amazing week. One you couldn't be able to script... Got a text from Beefy (Ian Botham) on Monday night and he said: 'Can I have your script writer?' It's great to be contributing to a series win. It also a great game of cricket... The game going into the last session with all the three results possible was a great advert for Test cricket.

On the memories

The memories shared with my team and the other teams I played against are what I'll miss the most. Some very good moments... Sharing the dressing room after wins, losses and sad moments... Today it was about how tough Test cricket can be. One thought we could easily get those seven wickets at the start of the day, but (Lokesh) Rahul and Rishabh (Pant) tested us almost till the end. This shows what a hard game it is... I leave with great memories. I have been very privileged to wear the cap for a long time.

On the ovation he got after getting his final Test 100

It was amazing seeing my friends and family who had all come to the ground to cheer for me. Besides, that, to see Jimmy (Anderson) go past Glenn McGrath was just brilliant. Him and (Stuart) Broad are the ones that I have played so much cricket with. That's probably the hardest bit when you are making the decision even though I know that I will never again be standing at slips and dropping catches off one of the two's bowling...

On whether Anderson is the best England cricketer he has played with

It has been a privilege to have played with Jimmy who, I think, is England's greatest cricketer. No disrespect to any other guys, but his skills to do it time and again is what shines... He almost takes it for granted that he will hit the length from ball one. That spell today when the game was getting a little bit tight, I don't think even then he missed his length outside off-stump. Not even once... It is fitting that he got the last wicket by knocking out the middle-stump and win the Test match for us.

On if he would miss international cricket

The amount of hard work that goes into it… The pressure and the strain you play under. You miss all the highs. I would miss playing for this team, but it would be great to see how they develop.

On whether he may consider a comeback

Not a chance… This week can’t be beaten. I can walk away with my head held high and I have always wanted to do that.


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