Alastair Cook, the former England captain and his country’s leading Test run-scorer, is to receive a knighthood in the New Year’s honours list. Cook, who retired from Tests at the end of the summer, will become the first England cricketer to be knighted since Sir Ian Botham in 2007.
Cook scored 12,472 Test runs, and more hundreds than any Englishman before him. He bowed out at The Oval in September with his 33rd ton, scored in his final innings – mirroring the 104 not out he made on debut, also against India, in Nagpur in 2006, a tour that signalled the arrival of a rare batting talent.
He led the Test team between 2012 and 2017, overseeing two Ashes victories as well as famous wins in India and South Africa, and went on to amass 161 caps – another England record. His run of 159 Tests in succession until his retirement has no equal in the game.
Cook, who turned 34 on Christmas Day, is to be knighted for his services to cricket, becoming only the tenth England cricketer to be awarded the honour. The last active player (Cook will continue to represent Essex next season) to be given a knighthood was New Zealand allrounder Sir Richard Hadlee in 1990.
Cook led his country in a record 59 Tests, winning the Ashes on home soil in 2013 and 2015, and leading from the front with three centuries in a famous 2-1 series win in India in 2012-13. His most prolific series with the bat, and arguably his most famous hour, came during the Ashes of 2010-11 when he racked up 766 runs in five Tests, including a then-best of 235 not out at Brisbane, to underpin England’s first series win in Australia since 1986-87.
He also captained the ODI side from 2011 until late 2014, when he was removed in bitter circumstances less than two months out from the World Cup. With another 3265 runs in limited-overs cricket, he is by some distance England’s record run-scorer across the three international formats.
The only Test that Cook missed in the course of a 12-year international career was at Mumbai in March 2006. It was the same trip on which he marked his debut with a century, at the age of 21, having flown halfway around the world from the Caribbean as a last-minute injury replacement.
Though his returns fell away in the final 18 months of his career, Cook’s tenacity remained at the forefront of his game to the bitter end, with two more double-centuries against West Indies and Australia in the final 12 months of his career, prior to an extraordinary send-off in his final match against India at The Oval.
Having announced his impending retirement, following a fallow summer in which he had made a solitary half-century in ten innings against Pakistan and India, Cook bowed out in remarkable fashion at The Oval in September. He followed up a first-innings 71 with a commanding 147 in the second, a brace of scores which culminated in an extended standing ovation as England pressed on to a memorable 118-run win.
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