Alastair Cook: England's most-capped Test player talks to Mike Atherton
'It's taken me a long time to be a natural England captain'
By Oli Burley
Last Updated: 20/10/16 5:24pm
Alastair Cook says becoming England's most-capped Test player of all time is surreal.
Cook surpassed Alec Stewart's record of 133 Test appearances in leading the tourists in the first Test against Bangladesh.
During an interview with former skipper and Sky Sports commentator Michael Atherton that you can see by clicking on the video above, Cook offered an insight into his durability at the highest level and explained how he's changed as a person and leader during his tenure as captain.
"It's surreal to think that no one has played as many Test matches for England," he said. "I suppose it's a credit to my longevity.
"Clearly I scored enough runs at the right time to stay in the team; there has been an element of luck to it; I've broken my finger once and that happened when I had time to recover.
"In one sense, what happens for me outside of cricket gives me that break - the farming means I have a really different life outside of cricket; it's not just cricket, cricket, cricket for 12 months of the year."
In the history of the game only Allan Border has played more consecutive Tests than Cook - the former Australia skipper leading the way with 153 in comparison to Cook's 131 ahead of the first Test in Chittagong.
By the time England take on India in the first Test at Rajkot, Cook will have captained England more times than anyone else - his 55th game eclipsing Atherton's own record of 54.
Looking back on his time as skipper, Cook said: "It's been a rollercoaster. It started off so well, winning away in India, which was an incredible achievement with the side.
"The England captaincy job, after 50-odd games, has found out what kind of leader I am in terms of a person. It's made me feel far more confident in terms of talking to a group in any situation. But it has taken me a long time to feel like I've been doing it naturally.
"For the first two years maybe I always felt like everything was forced - I felt like I was having to force myself to do it. When Trevor (Bayliss) and Farby (assistant Paul Farbrace) came in, they freed everyone up and that kind of helped me a lot.
"I'm definitely more open, definitely better at listening to people's advice and processing it. My stubbornness helped me for the first half of my career; I had that real determination to do it my way - I know the best way. That helped me from a 14-year-old to 25 in getting me to where I got to.
"The first bit of the captaincy I thought I'd carry on doing things the same way and then, actually, there are a lot more people who know a lot more about cricket than I do and I needed that help.
"I got to a point where I had to change. The moment, in one sense, was ringing up Michael Vaughan, who had been probably one of my harshest critics, and saying 'we need to have a chat here'.
"Now I feel more comfortable talking to the media away from the cricket. It just couldn't carry on the same way - I couldn't just keep hunkering in and being that bloke because I wouldn't have lasted as long as I have done."
For more from Cook - including his thoughts on the topics below - just click on the video at the top of the page…
Advice he'd give to Duckett/Hameed…
"I've always said to everyone 'don't change your game because your playing Test cricket'. You have to play the way you've been playing to get selected. Be very clear on how you score runs because - probably for the first time - your technique will get picked apart very quickly on TV."
Playing on the sub-continent…
"It's a huge challenge, as a physical and mental challenge first and foremost. I saw how much winning the ODI series took out of the guys. To do that for 35 days of cricket in a short space of time is going to take a lot of effort. You need a lot of skill and, also, there's the environment where you can't quite get out as much."
England's spin options…
"I don't think it's been our area of strength over the last couple of years; since Swanny and Monty haven't been around we haven't had that real quality. The ECB recognises that and so there's the new change of toss rules in the County Championship but that isn't going to magically give us four or five top-quality spinners right away. We do need a world-class spinner for us to become the world No 1 side."
"I don't know how long I want to go for. I will know as soon as my motivation starts to wane. The early morning runs, the gym sessions, packing the bags again and seeing your daughter wave out the window. I don't know how that will go in the years to come. Age is irrelevant, it's almost how much cricket can you deal with? If I'm still here in five years, I'll be surprised but very happy because I'd have achieved a lot and I'd know I didn't have any more to give."
Watch the opening Test between Bangladesh and England on Sky Sports 2 HD.