Tall, lanky and handsome – These are a few words that could be used to describe England’s 26 year old opener and new ODI captain Alastair Cook who could easily pass of an Hollywood actor! But the left handed batsman from Essex would rather be known, and is known as a batsman with a penchant for runs.
Thrown into the Essex main team as soon as he passed school, Cook began scoring runs by the ton in first class cricket and was already being called the next big thing in English cricket. His moment of fame was to come in 2005 when the touring Australians played a practice game against Essex. Against a fearsome attack consisting of Lee, Gillespie, Kasprowicz, Tait and McGill, Cook stroked his way to a quickfire 214 of 238 balls as he shared a 370 run stand with Ravi Bopara.
With Trescothick having his problems touring countries, England were short on openers and Cook was called from the A team in the Caribbean to represent the senior team that was going to tour India. Touring India is not a task for the faint hearted but Cook showed no signs of nerve as he made a stroke filled 60 in his debut innings. Things were only going to get better for the young boy! What followed was an unbeaten century in the second innings to cap off a remarkable debut!
There was no looking behind after that! Cook retained his place for the Ashes Down Under in 2007 and though he scored at an average of less than 30, he did manage a century at WACA, the graveyard of batsmen. Cook had nine centuries by the time he had turned 25 and had more runs than any Englishman at that age. Strauss decided to skip the Bangladesh tour and the selectors decided to hand Cook the captain’s mantle. Captaincy had no affect on his scores and he scored a couple of centuries as England won both their Tests without much trouble.
It was redemption time when England toured Australia in 2010 for the Ashes. They had been mauled 5-0 the last time they toured the country and were keen on hanging on to the trophy they won in 09 back home. What followed was a barrage of runs from Cook as England retained the Ashes with a 3-1 series victory. Cook ended the series with an astonishing 766 runs, the second highest ever by an Englishman in an Ashes series as he collected the Man of the Series Award.
At 26, Cook has already played 68 Tests with over 5000 runs and seems like he has been at the helm of the English batting order forever. Cook’s scintillating form has been a prime reason why England are at No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings and what remains to be seen is if he can inspire them to reach the summit with a series win over MS Dhoni’s men in the Test series that begins on July 21.