Alastair Cook

Week 255 (1 - 7 September 2018)

England’s highest Test run scorer and most capped cricketer Alastair Cook decided to call time on his glittering international career this week.  

The former England captain racked up an astounding 12,254 runs and made 32 centuries in 160 Tests over 12 years. However, “Cookie” announced that England’s final Test against India will also be his last, leading to widespread tributes from cricket stars, coaches and fans.

One of Cook’s boyhood heroes and former mentor Graham Gooch described the Essex batsman as a “beacon for cricket”:

"Forget his achievements, he is a superman, an icon and a beacon for his sport. If you're looking for a role model, if you're looking for an icon in sport, let alone cricket, you couldn't get a more upstanding person and lovely guy than Alastair Cook. He's everything you want in a sportsperson."

Whilst Cook will be remembered as one of the greatest and most prolific batsmen to ever play for England, his career wasn’t plain sailing. A key part of Cook’s longevity was his ability to reflect and learn from both past mistakes and successes.

During an interview with BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Special, Cook opened up about his struggles as captain, as well as the sacking of Kevin Pietersen and Graham Gooch after England’s uninspiring 2013-14 Ashes whitewash: 

“The first two years [of Cook’s captaincy] were done very much in my way and that was because that was how I had gone about my batting. I was very stubborn in believing I knew what was right for my game, so that is what I did with the captaincy. I didn't listen to anyone. Experience taught me it is such a big job and there are so many things to learn, so I opened my ears and relaxed into it. I definitely got better and so, looking back, I wonder why I didn't listen to more people.”

On Gooch’s sacking, Cook said:

“Now, I probably wouldn't have done, but it's the sort of thing that happens when you're growing up as a captain. It's possibly not the captain's job, but I can only blame myself for doing it.”

He was humble and grounded enough to realise and admit that there were faults in his career, but it ultimately allowed him to become a better captain, cricketer and person.

Everyone will remember Cooks incredible performances during the 2010-11 Ashes, where he scored 766 runs and was crowned Player of the Tournament. However, he explained how the period before was one of the toughest and most pressurised of his career:

“Six months beforehand I had been one innings from getting dropped and there I was after getting more than 700 runs in a series. Afterwards, I said to everyone that if they want to take anything from it, it was to never give up.”

Alastair Cook is JTA Communicator of the Week, for effectively conveying that it isn’t the errors or even the successes that define a sporting career, but the way that you respond to them.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons