Alastair Nathan Cook
December 25, 1984, Gloucester
Also Known As
Sir Alastair Cook
Left hand Bat
Right arm Slow
Alastair Cook was never an especially elegant batter, but his determination, his longevity and the sheer number of runs he made cemented his position as one of England's greatest. As the Oval crowd in his final Test stood to give him ovation after ovation, his popularity and the respect he evoked were abundantly clear. A knighthood followed a few months later.
By the time he played his final Test, aged only 33, he was already England's highest run-scorer and century-maker in Test cricket; had taken the most catches (as a non-keeper) for England; and had set a world record for the most Test caps in succession: an eye-watering 159.
He scored 766 runs in seven innings in the 2010-11 Ashes to anchor England's first series win in Australia for 24 years. Two years later he became England's leading Test century-maker - hitting No. 23 against India in Kolkata, his third in three matches - and the youngest player to pass 7000 runs.
The series victory in India that hundred contributed to was England's first there for 28 years. Two home Ashes wins followed for Cook, in 2013 and 2015, and in the winter of 2015-16, a triumphant tour of South Africa.
But there were significant disappointments too. He captained the side that was whitewashed in the 2013-14 Ashes and beaten by Sri Lanka at home the following summer. While he led the team to within an ace of that elusive global ODI title at the Champions Trophy of 2013, he was omitted from the 2015 World Cup squad, ending his limited-overs career around his 30th birthday.
Cook's leadership was, in many ways, like his batting: unyielding, determined and deliberate, but lacking the spark of tactical genius. His 24 Test wins in 59 Tests made him one of the most successful England captains, but his 22 defeats were also a record then. He resigned as Test captain in the aftermath of a 4-0 trouncing by India in 2016.
A batting prodigy since his school days, Cook was first called up to the Test side in 2006 as an injury replacement during a tour of India. He had been in the Caribbean with the A team when the SOS came but, unfazed, he stroked 60 and a magnificent century to complete a memorable debut in Nagpur. His ability to play long, attritional innings without showing signs of fatigue - it became a cliché that he did not sweat - was evident from the outset.
By his 25th birthday, he had scored far more runs and centuries than any other Englishman of a comparable age. He hit three Test hundreds in 2009 - but none of them were in the Ashes series, in which 95 at Lord's was his only score above 32 as the Aussies probed at his front-pad problem. The Pakistan attack of 2010 caused more problems, but a gritty century at The Oval ensured Cook would open in the Ashes series in which he proved so decisive. It's probably a fair microcosm of his career: he never claimed to be the most talented, but somehow he found a way.
Batting & Fielding