September 3, 2003
Golden boy makes his debut
Having made his Essex Second XI debut at 16 and scored plenty of runs in schools cricket for Bedford, Alastair Cook makes his first-class debut aged 18 against Nottinghamshire at Chelmsford
. The boy wonder duly registered his maiden fifty in the second innings, unbeaten at the top of the order with 69.
May 19, 2004
The first of many
Having scored a number of fifties without getting to a hundred after seven first-class games, Cook records his first century in a run-glut against Leicestershire at Chelmsford
February to March 2005
Into the A-Team
After his first full season of senior cricket, Cook was selected for England A's tour to UAE and Sri Lanka captained by Ian Bell.
September 3, 2005
Statement of intent
As Australia were floundering on their 2005 tour, Cook and a young Ravi Bopara really stuck the boot in. They shared a 370-run second-wicket stand as Cook made a rapid 214 from 238 deliveries
against an attack that included Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Shaun Tait, Stuart MacGill and Michael Kasprowitz.
March 1st, 2006
With England shedding players by the minute, Cook was plucked out of the academy team in West Indies and flown into his Test debut, opening the innings against India at Nagpur
. Aged 21, he was the epitome of sang froid
, with a nerveless first-innings 60 followed by an unbeaten 100 in the second innings. The man destined since boyhood for Test cricket didn't disappoint.
May to July 2006
Back to back hundreds against Pakistan at Lord's
and Old Trafford
confirmed his status as the Next Big Thing. Batting at number three, behind Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss, it looked like England had settled the pivotal position for the foreseeable future...
November 2006 to January 2007
Rude Ashes awakening
...However, he was soon given the responsibility of opening after Trescothick's late withdrawal before the opening Test of the 2006-07 Ashes series. Cook endured a tough Ashes debut as Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark mercilessly and meticulously unpicked his technique, causing havoc in that left-handers channel outside off stump. A grafting and tenacious 116 in the second innings at Perth
was a timely reminder of his ability but 276 runs at 27.60
in the five-nil drubbing represents the first time his precocious career had stalled.
May to June 2007
The West Indies proved far more hospitable opposition and Cook marked a return to form with hundreds in the first Test at Lord's
and the third Test at Old Trafford
as England completed an easy 3-0 victory. It was Cook's sixth century in 17 Tests.
Following 0 and 4 in the first Test of England's overseas tour to Sri Lanka in Kandy
, Cook overcame his reputation as an uncertain player of spin with a pair of fifties in Colombo
and his seventh Test hundred, in the second innings at Galle
March 5, 2008
Having developed a reputation as a cumbersome fielder and clumsy catcher, Cook set about putting the record straight in New Zealand. In the first Test at Hamilton
Cook snaffled six memorable catches at gully, leaping and diving to great effect.
March 2008 to February 2009
The long wait
Having become a senior member of the side, Cook picked up the infection that had troubled England's top-six since the Adelaide horror-show - the inability to make hundreds. Since his seventh hundred at Galle, Cook went 26 innings without recording another. It was difficult to accuse him of poor form, since he regularly passed fifty, but with England struggling, his presence at the top of the innings was more frustrating than inspiring.
25 January 2009
FEC - the next man in line
The chiselled, public-school tones, the masses of runs in his early years and the tenuous feeling from England's management that he was 'made of the right stuff', meant Cook had long been earmarked as leadership potential. Following the fiasco that saw England fire Kevin Pietersen as captain, Cook was appointed right-hand man to Andrew Strauss before England's tour of the West Indies.
March 2, 2009
With the pressure for a Test hundred mounting, Cook would have felt the hurdle insurmountable after he was out for 94 in the third Test against West Indies at Bridgetown
. However, he held his nerve and in the second innings, and used the friendly pitch and friendlier bowling to record an unbeaten 139. It was his highest Test score and his relief was palpable when Cook said he was pleased to "get the monkey off my back".
May 2009 to December 2009
Despite a 'gimme' 160 against a disinterested and demoralised West Indies side at Chester-le-street
pressure grew on Cook as suspicion lingered he couldn't score big runs against good sides. Australia, his nemesis, had once again targeted a weakness around off stump with the relentless precision that other teams had not matched. A single fifty in 11 outings against them left his spot under scrutiny when England toured South Africa. Life was not made any easier for him when it emerged that he was likely to lead England in Bangladesh if regular captain Andrew Strauss opted for a rest. The decision not to take a reserve opener displayed a belief from the England management that was not matched by pundits, and when he failed in the first Test at Centurion
, many were calling for his head.
December 26, 2009
The perfect response
Yet he discovered a monk-like discipline to battle through to a 263-ball 118 and set up England's victory at Durban
two days after his 25th birthday. Resisting all temptation outside off stump he grafted his way back into form and followed up with a pair of fifties in the next Test at Cape Town
January 18, 2010
At the helm
Having answered his critics he was duly appointed England captain
for their tour of Bangladesh as Strauss decided to rest. It completes a journey that seemed inevitable from when he was breaking records as a schoolboy in Bedford.
January 8, 2011
Attains greatness in an unforgettable performance in Australia
, scoring 766 runs in seven innings, including three centuries - 235 not out at Brisbane, 148 at Adelaide and 189 at Sydney. His series tally is second only to Wally Hammond's 905 in 1928-29 for an England batsman in Ashes cricket.