Five Tests as skipper, five centuries. Alistair Cook has now established himself as an England legend by becoming the leading Test centurion for England, with his 23rd Test hundred in Kolkata surpassing Kevin Pietersen, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott. Pietersen might still catch up, but with Cook 27 and Pietersen 32, time is on the side of England’s latest Test skipper.
It is fitting that his record-breaking century be scored in the country where he got his first, in Nagpur in 2006 on debut. I lived in Australia during England’s all-conquering 2010/2011 Ashes tour where Cook scored over 700 runs, including a fine double century in Brisbane. The man’s footwork was sound and exact, his technique efficient and well-understood. The man never looked like getting out, and it has so proven since, where lean patches between 2008 and 2009 and mid-2010 have been coupled by a deluge of runs, especially when he has the (c) next to his name.
With a batting style reminiscent of Gary Kirsten in many ways, except slightly better (which is no insult to South Africa’s current coach), Cook understands his game inside out, which is the key to his batting. He knows his strengths and his weaknesses, making him an extremely difficult player to bowl into in that mistakes are rare.
While he perhaps underperformed when South Africa visited England earlier this year, like Michael Clarke, the captaincy has seemed to make him even more focused, with bowlers around the world giving a collective sigh.
Alistair Cook will soon be Sir Alistair Cook, no doubt. Especially if he leads England to victory in India, which is looking increasingly likely. interestingly enough, he is the youngest man to ever score 7000 Test runs. Whose record did he beat? Sachin Tendulkar’s.