Cricket Expert & Columnist
Alastair Cook is England's mentally-toughest cricketer and greatest-ever batsman, says Nasser Hussain
"Even in his darkest moments, such as losing the Ashes 5-0, Alastair has stood up, never complained and got on with his game. This country should be very proud of him."
Last Updated: 04/09/18 10:59am
Nasser Hussain has hailed the retiring Alastair Cook as England's mentally-toughest cricketer and greatest-ever batsman before his final Test against India at The Oval…
I am not that surprised that Cook has decided to retire, to be honest. Conditions for opening batsmen in England over the last few years have been so difficult.
After 160 Tests at the top of the order, facing a Dukes ball in most of those, there are only so many times that even the mentally-toughest cricketer I have ever seen - as far as England goes anyway - can go to that well, dig deep and try to summon up even more mental strength.
Whatever happens at The Oval, he has been England's greatest batsman ever and a truly remarkable cricketer to carry on this long.
He never had a perfect technique so he has had to dig deep even more. He is constantly battling against his technique and when that new ball is darting around, he has to work hard to keep on top of his game.
Batting doesn't always come naturally to him - but what has come naturally is how hard mentally he has had to work at it. With Alastair, it's also not just what you see but the stuff behind the scenes as well.
When he is not playing Test cricket he will be at Chelmsford in the nets working with the likes of Graham Gooch and Keith Fletcher to improve his game and then go to the gym.
You don't play 158 Tests in a row without being supremely fit.
I'd also like to say dignified he has been and how well he has carried himself. As a captain you are not only a player but are also representing your country and sport.
Even in his darkest moments, such as losing the Ashes 5-0, he has stood up, never complained and got on with his game. This country should be very proud of him.
His biggest comeback, I think, was in the 2015 Ashes, after the whitewash in Australia [in 2013-14]. To win that series and then see him up on that podium - that was his redemption.
He was an emotional wreck and it was proof of what he had been through with the Kevin Pietersen affair and English cricket in turmoil. For Cook to stick with the captaincy showed his character.
No one is irreplaceable - Sachin Tendulkar retired and people said there will be no one like that but Virat Kohli has come along.
So eventually someone will come along but it will take some time to find another Cook.
For him it was always about surviving, giving his best and never giving his wicket away, so the last thing Alastair will want is a couple of low scores at The Oval and people standing for him.
He said to me at The Ageas Bowl that if he got a hundred he would walk up to the hotel and get a glass of champagne and sit there for a while.
I don't think he can do that at The Oval but will desperately want to dig deep one more time, get a score and walk off. The series is done and dusted but Alastair will want one more special moment.
Watch day one of the fifth Test, Cook's last, live from 10am on Friday on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) and Main Event (channel 401).
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