Sir Alastair Cook 'lost that fire' towards end of England Test career
"I remember lying on the outfield in New Zealand and saying to Chris Silverwood ‘I think I might have gone here’".
Last Updated: 26/01/20 6:06pm
Sir Alastair Cook looks back on his England career, discussing the timing of his Test retirement, his axing from the ODI squad, his hardest moment as captain and a great deal more...
Cook, who is England's highest Test run-scorer of all time and captained the team to Ashes success in 2015, retired from the international scene just under 18 months ago.
He joined Nick Knight in the Sky Sports studio, along with current England opener Rory Burns, to look back on his glittering career - listen to the chat in full via the player below or by downloading the podcast here.
Realising it was time to quit Test cricket
The decision to retire wasn't just made after the Trent Bridge Test (against India in 2018), it was happening for 18 months before. It's sad to say, when it's something you dream about and you just lose that little bit of fire.
I'm not going to compare myself to David Warner but sometimes I watch him bat and I'm jealous that he gets to 50 off 30 balls, it's an hour into the day and he's already sorted. I had to graft - if I was getting 50, it was a three-hour job most times.
After grinding my way through it a number of times, with the captaincy, I didn't have that much more to give, unfortunately.
I remember lying on the outfield in New Zealand and saying to (bowling coach) Chris Silverwood 'I think I might have gone here'. He persuaded me to play the summer, but it wasn't just that snapshot. It was a big thing to give away.
Being omitted from England's ODI squad just before the 2015 World Cup
I always found one-day cricket harder. Everything when I was growing up was about Test and four-day cricket - you played T20 as a 13-year-old and you saw off the new ball, milked it around and you might have a little slog at the end.
Obviously kids nowadays play like Jos Buttler or Ben Stokes and that was never part of my game. I was always drilling the defensive shots as a 14 or 15 year-old.
I had a good couple of years for England, then the fallout of the Ashes tour of 2013-14 and the KP affair and that year coincided with a change to the rules of the one-day game, which we were slow to adapt to. It probably didn't suit my game as well as it could have done and I was struggling for form.
In Test cricket you can grind away, get a 30 off 100 balls, which isn't pretty but gets you going. In one-day cricket you can't do that and I wasn't batting well enough to get going.
Quite rightly, in the last eight or nine months of that, I wasn't delivering the goods as a one-day player and it came to a time where it probably was right for me to be pushed. Two weeks before a World Cup didn't make much sense, but everything happens for a reason.
Greatest influence as a youngster
As an opening batsman, when I turned up at Essex, to have Graham Gooch as the head coach - and he was my hero, from when I used to go down and watch them play - with someone like him in your corner, prepared to do throwdowns with you at eight in the morning, was above and beyond.
He'd do it for any of the other youngsters as well, but in my position, he was the bloke who had the most impact on my career, there's no doubt about that.
When you're 15, 16 and scoring a lot of runs at school or county age level, you hear of so many people who don't make the grade and I suppose I always felt as if I was going to be in that category.
There was a turning point when I was 18. I'd played a little bit of second team cricket in the summer holidays and never really done very well.
Then I ended up getting three hundreds in a week. One for my club on the Saturday, then I played against Surrey and I got a hundred in both innings against a pretty decent attack - a lot of them had played first-class cricket. That was probably the first time I thought 'actually, I have a chance'.
Unexpected Test debut against India in 2006
If you remember that England side that won the Ashes in 2005, they were all batsmen in their mid-to late 20s and you thought they'd all be around for a while.
I played an England A tour in 2006 in Antigua, just before I got called up to go to Nagpur, and Dave Parsons, who was on the coaching staff, asked me 'when do you want to play for England?' I said 'I don't think it'll be for a while'.
Then a week later I'd played my first game and got my first hundred. The pressure was off me, I'd flown around the world, travelling for 48 hours and had two days in India, there was no expectation for me to do well at all.
I kind of had a free shot at it. I kept looking down at the shirt when I was fielding and thinking 'I cannot believe I'm playing for England' and I had that feeling for the whole five days, so to score runs was very special.
Hardest moment as England captain
Sport can define your character. At Headingley, against Sri Lanka in 2014, we should have won that game - I think they were level at seven wickets down second innings and we somehow managed to lose it.
That was a tough night and looking back on that year, I'm very proud I managed to get through that and next year we won the Ashes at home.
Apart from the obvious honour of leading your country, you get to make an impact on the team - it's very different to a football or rugby captain, you're making decisions which can influence the side in a good or bad way.
The challenge is exciting and you cannot plan for it. You can read all the books you want but until you're in that position, it's a steep learning curve. The sad thing about the job is you're the best captain at the end, when you've probably had your fill of it.