England’s all-time leading Test run scorer Alastair Cook has announced he will retire from international cricket after the fifth Test against India.
The match at the Oval will be the opening batsman’s 161st cap of a long career which saw him captain his country between 2010 and 2014 and form a part of four Ashes-winning England sides.
The decision by the 33-year-old comes after England sealed a third-straight home series victory over India with a 60-run victory at the Ageas Bowl.
Bringing the curtain down on a 12-year career at the top of the order, the Essex batsman said he had too many people to thank for their part in each of his 15,519 runs across all formats for England.
“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,” Cook said, having scored 17 and 12 in Southampton.
“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.
“I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt. So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country.
“There are too many people to thank individually, but a special mention must go to Graham Gooch. As a seven-year-old I queued for his autograph outside Essex County Cricket Club and years later was so fortunate to have him mentoring me. Graham was my sounding board, especially in the early years of my career, spending hour after hour throwing balls at me with his dog stick. He made me realise you always need to keep improving whatever you are trying to achieve.
“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.
“I would also like to thank Essex County Cricket Club for their help and support ever since I was 12, and I can’t wait to get fully involved with them in the 2019 season.
“I wish the England team every success in the future, and I will be watching with great excitement.”
Mentored throughtout his career by Graham Gooch, Cook passed his record of 8,900 Test runs to take the leading run scorer crown during the series against New Zealand in 2015. Going on to reach the 9,000-run milestone faster than Sachin Tendulkar, doing so by 94 days.
Though the runs have been plentiful for Cook, 12,254 to date in Tests, his career has not been without its critics during his tenure as captain and with the pressure of opening the innings.
After guiding the team to a first series win in India for 28 years and earning a hard-earned draw against New Zealand, criticism of Cook was at its staunchest after being routed Down Under by Australia and the demonic pace of Mitchell Johnson in 2013.
England legend Sir Ian Botham said he was ’embarrassed’ for Cook and blasted the team for their ‘spineless’ performances as they surrendered the urn to their fiercest rivals.
Stalwarts Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, in acromonious circumstances, retired or were out of the reckoning, while Cook’s wait for selectors to mould an opening partner for him to bat alongside was a tacit frustration in the years after Andrew Strauss’ retirement.
Averaging 44.88 in Tests, a similar situation now awaits national selector Ed Smith following Cook’s decision at a time when he and Keaton Jennings have struggled against the Pakistan and India attacks this summer.
Returning to full-time county cricket with Essex in 2019, Cook will do so as a scorer of 32 hundreds in Test cricket, nine more than the next man Kevin Pietersen. While also scoring 56 fifties.
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