The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Monday that Alastair Cook will retire from international cricket after the last Test of the ongoing series against India at the Oval. The Test starting on September 7 will be Cook’s 161st game for the Three Lions. The former England skipper is the highest run-getter for England having amassed 12,254 runs in 160 games at an average of 44.88 with 32 centuries and 56 fifties. “After much thought and deliberation over the last few months I have decided to announce my retirement from international cricket at the end of this Test series against India. Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face knowing I have given everything and there is nothing left in the tank. I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game. The thought of not sharing the dressing room again with some of my teammates was the hardest part of my decision but I know the timing is right” Cook said.
Cook’s poor run of scores in recent times has had pundits calling for his head but the biggest blow came during the fourth Test of the series in Southampton when long-time mentor Graham Gooch said on BBC Radio 4 that he didn’t see much improvement in the opener’s game. This after skipper Joe Root had said at the start of the Test that he wouldn’t write the batsman off as Cook has managed to come back strong every time someone has written him off. Unfortunately, Cook couldn’t repose the faith the captain showed in him. Despite hitting a brilliant 180 in the lead-up to the Test series — England Lions vs India ‘A’ game — the opener’s scores in the five-match series read 0, 13, 21, 17, 29, 12 and 17 after the first four games. 109 runs at an average of 15.57 has once again brought to the fore his constant struggle against the Indian pace bowlers after R Ashwin troubled him in the first game of the series at Edgbaston.
Cook also thanked his family for the constant support. “My family and I have had 12 wonderful years fulfilling my dreams and this could not have been done without them. So I wish to thank my parents and brothers, my wife Alice and her family for their quiet, unwavering support behind the scenes. As cricketers who travel frequently, we often don’t realise just how important our families are to our success,” he said. Apart from being a run-machine over the years, Cook was also the most-capped Test captain for England. Appointed in August 2012, Cook led the team till February 2017. He stepped down after a 0-4 thrashing at the hands of India in December 2016 and Joe Root was appointed the new skipper before the tour of the West Indies. Cook’s record includes Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa. While Cook never really announced his retirement from ODI cricket, he last played white ball cricket for England against Sri Lanka in December 2014. Cook also captained the team in the shorter format for 69 ODIs between 2010 and 2014. With the bat, he scored 3204 runs in 92 games at an average of 36.40 with 5 hundreds and 19 fifties.