Former England captain and opener Alastair Cook on Monday announced his retirement from international cricket following his team's series triumph over No.1-ranked Indian Test team in Southampton.
Cook has endured a lean summer at the top of the order for England, averaging only 15.57 in seven innings against India. But he stands sixth in the all-time list of leading Test run-scorers, just above West Indies great Brian Lara, and needs 147 at The Oval to move past Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara in fifth place.
“After much thought and deliberation over the last few months I have decided to announce my retirement from international cricket at the end of this Test series against India," Cook said in a statement released by the ECB.
“Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face knowing I have given everything and there is nothing left in the tank. I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game. The thought of not sharing the dressing room, again, with some of my teammates was the hardest part of my decision, but I know the timing is right," the statement read further.
The 33-year-old left-handed batsman feels it is the time for next generation of young cricketers to entertain the English cricket lovers.
“I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt. So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country," he said.
With an illustrious career, the Test specialist has been one of England's most prized possessions. Here are a few records that the Englishman holds:
- Cook has played the most Tests for England (160)
- England's all-time leading Test scorer, sixth highest run-scorer in the history of Test cricket (12254)
- The most Tests as captain for England (59)
- The most Test centuries for England (32)
- Most consecutive Test matches played (158*)
Cook, made his Test debut in March 2006 against India, against whom he will be playing his last Test match as well. The fifth and final match of the five-Test series will be played at Kennington Oval, London, from September 7 to 11.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan hailed Cook on his retirement, saying: "No player has given more to the England cricket shirt .. No player has got more out of there ability .. No player has shown more mental strength than Alastair Cook .. More than that he is the nicest Cricketer we have ever had .. Thanks for all the memories Cookie."
Cook's former teammate and Director of Cricket for England cricket team Andrew Strauss paid tribute to the veteran, saying: "I admire him greatly as a player and so, to stand at the other end from him was a great privilege."
Mentioning his remarkable Test debut in Nagpur, former India batsman VVS Laxman congratulated Cook on a wonderful career for England.
"Right from the time he made his debut against us in Nagpur, knew that he is a very special talent and will have a huge role to play in English Cricket. I wish to congratulate Alastair Cook on a wonderful career for England," he tweeted.
Former England ODI captain Paul Collingwood shared an old picture with Cook, along with some heartfelt wishes. He wrote on Instagram: "Alastair Cook retires from international cricket. He gave it everything and more. Huge respect for a guy that has achieved so much, it was a pleasure being out in the middle when you scored a lot of your hundreds for @englandcricket!"
"Thanks for fighting so hard. This pic was from his debut hundred in Nagpur when he flew in last minute to replace @marcustrescothick An incredible century that was to carry on for the next 160 test matches!"
England now face the tough task of finding a replacement at the top of the batting order, with Cook having had 12 opening partners since Andrew Strauss' retirement in 2012.
"Alastair's selfless dedication to the England cause and his desire to succeed are an object lesson to any professional cricketer," ECB chairman Colin Graves said as quoted by AP.
"He fully deserves to be remembered as one of England's greatest ever cricketers," Graves added.