Sunday, 20 September 2020

Strauss lauds Cook as England’s ‘greatest player’

LONDON: Alastair Cook was lauded as England’s “greatest ever player” by former opening partner Andrew Strauss during his final Test before international retirement. Cook was thrust straight into the action in his farewell Test after England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat against India at the Oval on Friday.

That meant Cook, in what was the opening batsman’s 161st and final Test appearance before his international retirement, would be involved from the first ball. At lunch, the 33-year-old Essex left-hander was 37 not out in a total of 68 for one.

Former captain Cook, England’s all-time record run-scorer, walked out to a guard of honour from his India opponents after being presented with a commemorative cap by Strauss, his predecessor as Test skipper, before play started. Strauss, now the England and Wales Cricket Board director, addressed the England team before handing Cook a cap numbered 161 to mark the final international match of a 12-year international career.

A video montage produced by the Professional Cricketers’ Association, featuring the favourite recollections of many of the 74 players with whom Cook has shared his Test career, was shown to the batsman on Thursday. “It’s incredibly humbling watching all those messages,” said Cook. “Not that I am wishing this week away but once it is out of the way and the dust has settled and life has moved on I think it will be a great watch, just to appreciate how many people I have played Test cricket with and how special everything has been.”

Cook, who intends to continue playing for Essex, added: “It is a bit surreal at the moment, with all the adulation, but I am determined to go out and enjoy it — and I am determined to go out with a win. It has been a privilege to pull on the England shirt.

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