Cooking up a storm
Joe Drabble takes a look at some of Alastair Cook's most significant innings after he became England's leading Test century-maker of all-time at Eden Gardens in India this week.
By Joe Drabble - Twitter: @SkySportsDrabs
Last Updated: 07/12/12 10:58am
Christmas is a hectic time of the year for cooks around the world, however there is one Cook in India stirring up something quite special at the moment.
England captain Alastair Cook is smashing records right, left and centre and has prompted bookmakers to open a market on him becoming the highest Test run-scorer of all-time.
At just 27, the Essex-born left-hander has already become England's leading century-maker after registering a 23rd three-figure score against India in Kolkata on Thursday and now appears destined to surpass Graham Gooch as England's record run-getter of all-time.
But it has been far from plain-sailing for Cook, who, like many batsman, has had his fair share of lean spells en route to becoming the quickest player ever to pass 7,000 Test runs.
Here, Joe Drabble looks back of some of his most significant innings...
104 not out v India in Nagpur - March 2006
Cook broke an England Test record in his very first match when he became the youngest debutant to score a century for his country against India in Nagpur back in 2006. The then 21-year-old was called-up as a late replacement against India and followed up a composed first-innings 60 with an unbeaten 104 second time around to help England secure a draw. He also became the 16th Englishman to reach three figures on debut. It was a sign of things to come...
105 v Pakistan at Lord's - July 2006
Keen to prove his maiden Test century was no fluke, Cook then marked his second Test appearance at Lord's with another three figure score. Batting at No.3, Cooked cashed in after a couple of reprieves off the bowling of Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria to score his first Test century on home soil. He was retained at No.3 for the following Test at Old Trafford, where he posted 127.
116 v Australia at Perth - December 2006
Cook tasted Ashes cricket for the first time in the winter of 2006-07 in what turned out to be a steep learning curve for the Essex man. In a series of few positives for England and Cook, a first century against the old enemy was at least ticked off the list at the WACA. Cook repelled an Australian attack comprising of Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne to prove his worth once more.
173 v Bangladesh at Chittagong - March 2010
Asked to captain the side in place of the rested Andrew Strauss, Cook marked the occasion with a, yep, century. In doing so he became the fifth England captain to score a hundred in his first match in charge. He was to go and prove that the pressure of captaincy was absolutely no burden whatsoever.
110 v Pakistan at the Oval - August 2010
Cook may well look back at this century as a turning point in his career. His place at the top of the order looked in huge danger after scores of: seven, 23, 29, eight, 12, 17, four and six in the first five Test matches of the 2010 English summer against Bangladesh and Pakistan. It was not only the low scores, but also the manner of his dismissals which were causing the most concern. Looking tentative outside off stump, while also falling over and being trapped lbw, Cook desperately needed some runs to secure his place on the plane to Australia for the 2010-11 Ashes series. After edging three times through the slip cordon at the start of his second innings against Pakistan at the Oval, Cook showed the battling qualities that went on to become his trademark, with his 110 ending a lean spell and setting him up for a winter to remember.
235 not out v Australia in Brisbane - November 2010
Any doubts over Cook's worth at the top of the order were spectacularly allayed when he amassed a world record 235 not out to help England salvage a draw in the first Test of the 2010-11 Ashes series. Cook batted for 10 and a half hours, putting on 188 for the opening wicket alongside captain Andrew Strauss and an unbeaten 329 for the second wicket with Jonathan Trott as England declared on a sensational 517-1 in their second innings. Cook's score remains the highest by an away player at the Gabba and was only surpassed when Australia captain Michael Clarke made 259 not out this year. Cook went on to score 766 runs in the series as England recorded their first Ashes series win Down Under since 1987.
294 v India at Edgbaston - August 2011
Cook's stock continued to rise and although he had struggled in the previous two Tests at Lord's and Trent Bridge, he claimed a remarkable seventh hundred in 18 innings in Birmingham before going on to register his highest first-class score. His concentration levels were second to none although he fell agonisingly short of a maiden triple ton when he skied Ishant Sharma to deep point. The damage was done, however, as England racked up 710-7 declared before going on to seal an innings-and-242-run victory, one that sealed their spot at the top of the ICC world rankings.
176 v India at Ahmedabad - November 2012
It may not have been significant in terms of the outcome of the match, but Cook's century in a losing cause certainly sparked a shift in momentum in the opening match of the ongoing Test series in India. After watching on as his side crumble to 191 not out in the first innings of his first match as full-time skipper, Cook responded with a fluent 176 in the second knock to at least ensure England avoided an innings defeat.
136 not out (and going...) v India at Kolkata - December 2012
Cook wrote his name into the record books with his 23rd Test century - the most by any England batsman. This was his third consecutive hundred after taking charge of the team permanently as he once again led by example. The 27-year-old was given a huge stroke of luck on 17 when he was dropped by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip off Zaheer Khan. Cook made India pay for their profligacy with yet another fine innings in the sub-continent before bringing up his landmark ton off 179 balls. The innings also made him the youngest batsman to reach 7,000 Test runs.
Don't miss any live and exclusive cricket coverage this festive season. Click here to visit Sky Sports' Festive Calendar