“My job is to play cricket.” It’s this simplicity that epitomises the success of Alistair Cook. This is not the kind of simplicity which one would associate with footballers who are unable to tie their shoe laces. No, this is minimalism at its finest. Cook may not be a modern cricketing poet but to deny that he is the workhorse behind England’s success over the last 10 years is inexcusable. Instead of viewing him as some sort of bohemian frontman for the sport, view him as the tractor driving farmer that he choices to be in his spare time. It’s this beautiful workaday attitude which separates him from all those around him. It does not matter what form it comes in, it is the continuous success which must be admired.
Cook is a man glued to his sport. He has played in more test matches than any other England player, achieving 134 test caps, though it’s hard to deny that his methods are tested and fully functional. With 29 test hundreds to his name he is England’s most successful batsman to date. But it is the more unusual statistics which reveal the character of England’s finest. In 2015 Cook spent 13 hours and 56 minutes at the crease, the longest by any cricketer in a single year in history. Furthermore, he has now completed 132 consecutive test matches, the third most by any player in the world. It is this consistency and concentration that is now so rare to find in a cricketing world with pyromanic celebrations and kits that resemble Joseph’s technicolored dream coat, that has enabled Cook to subtly engrave his name in to the record books on all 5 cricketing continents.
His 134th test match was not a personal highpoint for him. However, having spent only 18 hours with his newly born daughter before flying out to play perhaps gives him an excuse, not that he’s ever needed one in the past. Even so, as a captain he must certainly be credited for England’s success again. Choices such as to open the bowling with 39 year old Gareth Batty (Cook’s polar opposite being the English player to have missed the greatest number of test matches between appearances having not represented England for 110 test matches) revealed his willingness to embrace the difficult Bangladeshi conditions which were presented to his side. To have the confidence five days later to reverse this tactic and turn to his fast bowlers with only 30 runs to spare shows how excellently Cook separates his Bear Grylls-esque survivors instinct whilst batting his willingness to be creative in order to succeed as a captain. Alistair Cook, although not always glamorous, brings ‘practice makes perfect’ into a new era of exciting and engaging cricket.