Sir Alastair Cook famously never sweated throughout his record-breaking career.

Even back in December 2010 after seven hours in the 40 degree Adelaide heat, the man who would become a four-time Ashes winner – twice as captain – barely perspired as he delivered his second successive hundred of a memorably victorious tour.

It was a physical peculiarity which meant England regularly threw the ball to him whenever they needed it dust-dry in search of reverse-swing.

  • First-class matches 352 (Tests 161)
  • First-class runs 26,643 (12,472)
  • First-class centuries 74 (33)
  • First-class average 46.41 (45.35)

Curiously, though, it belied Cook’s greatest assets of determination and ability to graft for sessions, sometimes days, on end without losing concentration.

Cook, who has now called time on his remarkable career at the age of 38, will be treasured for generations for his extraordinary durability.

Most famously that brought him 12,472 runs and 33 centuries, both England records, in 161 Tests.

Yet even after he stepped away from the international game five years ago, Cook maintained his hunger at domestic level, scoring a further 3,889 first-class runs for Essex .

Overall the left-hander compiled 26,643 first-class runs with 74 hundreds in 352 games spanning 20 years. He also played 178 List A games and 32 T20 matches, scoring 14 centuries across both of those formats.

The signposts to a potentially great career were evident from the moment the one-time St Paul’s Cathedral School chorister began to make a name for himself at the start of this millennium.

Alastair Cook file photo
Cook was a four-time Ashes winner (Gareth Copley/POOL)

Cook’s statistics as a schoolboy at Bedford and a club-cricket prodigy for Maldon in Essex had already turned heads when he made his county second XI debut at the age of 15.

He hit back-to-back unbeaten hundreds when captaining England at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2004 and scored an unbeaten double century against touring Australia for Essex at Chelmsford the following year.

In March 2006 he was rushed 6,000 miles from an England A tour of the Caribbean as an injury replacement to make his Test debut against India in Nagpur. He took it all in his stride as he scored 60 at his first attempt and then an unbeaten second-innings century.

These were feats beyond the ordinary and his final Test, also against India, proved similarly fairytale-like as he scored 147 in a 118-run victory at The Oval.

He could have walked away then but he was not done, helping Essex to a second County Championship title in three years in 2019 and remaining at the forefront of the game in England.

His story was not always straightforward, even during his world-record run of 159 consecutive Test appearances.

Sir Alastair Cook
Cook maintained his hunger with Essex (Steven Paston/PA)

There were run droughts and his brilliant Ashes winter of 2010-11 – when he scored a superb 766 runs in a rare England triumph Down Under – only occurred after he booked his place by chiselling out a century against Pakistan in the nick of time.

There were further travails as captain, including the saga of Kevin Pietersen’s Test exile and a 5-0 hammering in Australia, but he remained a resolute and driven individual.

Combined with undoubted skill, these characteristics made Cook one of the greatest players English cricket has ever produced.

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