Cook ready to yet again rewrite record books

19 October 2016

Cook will break yet another record on Thursday // Getty

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The first Test against Bangladesh will see Alastair Cook break yet another record in a remarkable career

About the Writer:

Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.

When Alastair Cook makes his 134th Test appearance in Chittagong on Thursday he will collect yet another landmark in a career that seems to be continually rewriting the record books.

After notching up the most Test centuries by an England batsman, a milestone he passed four years ago, and becoming the first Englishman to score 10,000 runs in the longest form of the game earlier this year, Cook is set to overtake Alec Stewart as his country’s most capped Test cricketer this week.

This series against Bangladesh might not be the most mouth-watering he has taken part in but after travelling 16,000 miles on a round-trip home to attend the birth of his second child, Cook is ready to lead England in the first of seven successive Tests on the sub-continent between now and Christmas.

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The 31-year-old opener is a master of Asian conditions, averaging 69 in the 21 Tests he has played away from home against Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Remarkably since his first cap against India at Nagpur in March 2006, Cook has played 40 more Tests than Bangladesh have in their entire history.

Back then Cook scored a hundred on debut after flying in from an England A tour in the Caribbean as a last-minute replacement for Marcus Trescothick. He has not looked back since.

Cook scored a century on debut // Getty
Cook scored a century on debut // Getty

However, despite his 10599 runs and 29 Test centuries, the most impressive statistic in Cook’s career is the fact he has managed to play 131 of his 133 Tests to date consecutively.

Not since the Mumbai Test on that first tour of India in 2006, when he was struck down with a bug, has Cook missed a match for his country. That means he has played in every England Test match of the last 10 years.

Only Australian great Allan Border, who made 153 successive appearances between 1979 and 1994, has bettered that record.

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It takes a combination of luck with injuries and form to sustain such longevity at the highest level but, like Border, Cook’s staying power is testament to an underlying class and bloody-minded determination to succeed.

"I would never have thought in 2006 when I made my debut I would get close to breaking that record," said Cook. "It will be a very special moment.

"Luck plays a huge part in terms of never breaking a finger in catching practice or blowing up your knee the day before and getting a knock on it so you can’t walk.

"That has never happened so you need a lot of luck and the other thing is being consistent enough over a period of time not to get dropped.

"Clearly there have been times when I have had a little bit of luck on selection but the majority of times I have managed to score the runs that have kept me in the team. Probably more than appearances the consecutive record is the proudest thing for me."

Cook and his eldest daughter Elsie // Getty
Cook and his eldest daughter Elsie // Getty

With England scheduled to play 12 Tests a year for the foreseeable future it is feasible Cook could become only the second player after Sachin Tendulkar to reach the 200-Test landmark. To do that he would need to keep going until the end of 2021 – when he would be 37.

"We play Tests so quickly nowadays so I could do it," said Cook. "Seventy-odd odd Test matches now seems a long way away and if I am brutally honest the more times you pack your bags to leave your family at home you do question how long you can keep doing it for but at this precise moment in time playing and being captain is something I am very proud of.

"It doesn’t matter whether you are playing your first game or your 134th, it is a very proud moment to play for England and you should never ever forget that and I certainly don’t."

Quick single: 'He must have had a pretty quiet career'

Cook has admitted leaving so abruptly after the birth of his daughter on Sunday – he arrived back in Bangladesh on Monday afternoon - has been hard and may affect his preparations for the opening Test.

"It’s been quite an emotional 48 hours," he said. "As you can imagine, having another daughter and then leaving so soon afterwards doesn’t make you feel like the best husband or father in the world.

"It’s great that mum and baby are doing very well and so it’s very special but I’m out here now so I’ve got to go and play some cricket.

"I think mentally and emotionally it will be a big challenge but there’s every motivation.

"It won’t be hard when you get out there because you know what you’ve left behind – it’s not going to guarantee you any runs but you can throw yourself straight in there and do the best you can because there is no point moping around."

When Thursday comes then, Cook will have more motivation than usual to make sure this series is a personal success.

That is bad news for a Bangladesh side who have not played a Test for more than 14 months.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

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