The Famous Kennington Oval is linked with a lot of stories. The first-ever Test on English soil was played here in September 1880. WG Grace’s debut hundred and the famous victory is still one of the key moments of English Cricket. This venue witnessed many historic moments. Chasing only 85 to win, England slumped from 51 for 2 to 78 all out; The legend of the Ashes was born here. Unfortunately or fortunately this ground also has seen a number of ‘Greater Exits’. This includes denying Sir Donald Bradman four runs from his final innings to have a Test batting average of exactly 100. If it was Eric Hollies in 1948, 43 years later the culprit changed to David Lawrence. He dismissed the greatest Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards here for the final time. And today it was a Greatest Exit Indeed. Yes, Alastair Cook signed off with a hundred.
“The bowling might be bad but when Cook thinks he wants to block it, God forbid anyone trying not to sleep”.
Those Words from a Vizag Spectator then defines Alastair Cook. From Nagpur to Oval or from 160-ball 60 to 33rd Hundred, King of Blockathons completed his journey. Starting by the standing ovation at the start of the day, Cook played as he played at Nagpur in 2006. That’s why when he leaves, the records still follows. Only South Africa’s Bruce Mitchell made half-centuries in both innings on Test debut as well as their final Test. Cook had hit 60 and 104 not out on his debut. Cook is the fifth batsman to have made centuries on debut as well as in their final Test. Bill Ponsford, Reggie Duff, Greg Chappell, and Mohammad Azharuddin are the other four to do so. Also, Cook’s score in his final innings is the highest by any batsman in the second innings of his final Test. Just Legendary things!
‘15,000 Test runs and 50 Test centuries are not beyond him’. Even though Gavaskar went wrong, considering as a legend at the age of 28 is one of the best compliment a player can get. It is never easy being a Test opener. Especially in English Conditions. The Rapid New ball swing here makes it tougher for an opener. A great deal of quality is needed for any opener to survive. Robust technique and temperament along with patience is required to counter these conditions. All these qualities sum up Alastair Cook.
From the day he came, the ” Expansive left-hander” always put his country first. Between the 11th Hour replacement in Nagpur to Legendary farewell, English cricket has grown big along with him. As the batsman and Captain, he has played a big role. 161 Tests,12,472 Runs at an average of 45.35 and 33 Centuries. It was, as Joe Root said, “written in the stars”. England’s most-capped player has captained the team in an English record 59 Tests and 69 ODIs. Being the Captain, losing the first test, still scoring 562 runs and winning the series in subcontinent is something that only great players do, so was Alastair Nathan Cook. Leading run-scorers list in Test matches for England and he was also the youngest player to complete 12,000 Test runs. Their Greatest ever in all terms.
Even when ageing started affecting his fluency he was never completely finished. When he leaves now, a better replacement is yet to found to fill up his shoes. Alastair Nathan Cook could have waited till next Ashes. When ‘there is nothing left in the tank’, he could have given the last try to fill it. Because England will never have another Alastair Cook. “Commit all your crimes when Cook is batting. They will go unnoticed for even the Lord is dozing off to sleep.” No more crimes, no more Sleeping; The Chef bids goodbye!