Alastair Cook's best knocks for England following knighthood award
By Sky Sports Cricket
Last Updated: 02/01/19 12:46pm
There was a perfect symmetry to Alastair Cook's Test career with the opener hitting a hundred against India to start and a hundred against India to finish.
Cook notched an unbeaten 104 on debut in Nagpur in 2006 and then rounded off a record-breaking career with a highly-emotional 147 at The Oval in September in his 161st and final Test.
That knock was his 33rd in the format for England and, during it, he surpassed Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara to become the fifth-highest run-scorer in the history of Test cricket.
Cook remains the only player from his country - and only the 13th from any nation - to pass 10,000 runs in Tests, with a number of notable knocks helping him past that milestone.
Check out highlights from his final innings in the video above and then read on as we look at 10 of his most memorable others...
105 v Pakistan, Lord’s, July 2006
Cook may have become only the fifth Englishman to score a hundred and half-century on debut – against India, in Nagpur – but that did not prevent the selectors shunting the 21-year-old down to three in the order to accommodate the returning Marcus Trescothick that summer.
Never mind. Cook fell 11 runs short of scoring a hundred in his first Test on home soil, against Sri Lanka at Lord’s, and made amends weeks later against Pakistan at HQ.
Far from a vintage display – he was dropped three times and nearly ran himself out going from two to three figures – this was Cook at his most gritty, digging in for a total of 279 balls.
His appetite undiminished, he would go on to make 127 against the same opposition in the following Test at Old Trafford.
116 v Australia, Perth, 2006
On an Ashes tour to largely forget, Cook gave English fans something to shout about with a battling century in the third Test at Perth.
Set a colossal 557 runs to win, England lost Andrew Strauss for a four-ball duck but Cook – ably assisted by Ian Bell – kept the ravenous Australian attack at bay before flicking Shane Warne for a single to post his first Ashes hundred, one of five overall, off 257 balls.
His resilience lasted a little longer, further fuelling English hopes of the truly miraculous, before he edged Glenn McGrath behind to Adam Gilchrist. His toil was rewarded with a standing ovation by the hordes of travelling fans – a reception as warm as it was deserved.
95 v India, Ageas Bowl, 2014
Cook received two more standing ovations at Hampshire some seven years later – unusually for reaching 50 and then as he walked off after being dismissed five runs short of a century, in an innings he admitted was as highly pressurised as any he had played in his career.
Without a Test century in 429 days, Cook's spell as captain appeared all-but-over as he walked out to bat at the Ageas Bowl – the combined weight of a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia, a 1-0 home loss to Sri Lanka and defeat to India at Lord's hanging heavy on his shoulders.
In that context, his knock of 95 won him many plaudits, not least from Essex chum Nasser Hussain: "He has been under immense pressure for a long time so it took great mental strength to produce that innings."
110 v Pakistan, The Oval, 2010
Cook was also under the pump when Pakistan paid a visit in 2010. Having struggled earlier in the summer against Bangladesh, the left-hander made scores of just eight, 12, 17, four and six in his first five innings against Salman Butt's men.
With more than a few question marks over his place in the side, Cook responded with a second-innings 110 in the third Test at The Oval - almost half of his side's 222 runs.
The century could not save England from falling to a four-wicket defeat - a result that was swiftly forgotten at Lord's in the next game as the hosts wrapped up a 3-1 series win - but it sealed his seat aboard the plane to Australia for an Ashes series in which he flourished.
235no v Australia, Brisbane, 2010
If his 13th Test century saved his career, the 14th set him on the path to greatness. With England needing to battle to save the first Test against their fierce rivals, Cook was monumental.
He 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 517-1.
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, Edgbaston, 2011
Cook's highest first-class score – founded upon his seventh hundred in 18 Test innings – showcased his incredible focus.
Here's how then captain Andrew Strauss remembers it: "The key to that innings was Cook's ability to maintain concentration and play the same way throughout – he didn't really up the gears, he just kept batting in his usual non-fussy way."
The left-hander batted for 773 minutes, facing 545 balls – his innings grinding India into the dust as England racked up 710-7 before cruising to victory by an innings and 242 runs.
162 v New Zealand, Lord's, 2015
While Cook's two-year century drought was ended in the West Indies a month earlier, his 27th Test century was much sweeter. It came on home soil and in a memorable win over New Zealand in the first Test at Lord's.
Ben Stokes' blistering 85-ball ton at the other end grabbed the headlines and took the attention off Cook, something the captain relished, passing 150 and helping England to set a defendable target on day five.
263 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2015
Cook showed ultimate endurance in baking-hot Abu Dhabi to beat the record for the longest Test innings by an Englishman.
Cook's 836-minute vigil surpassed the 797 minutes Sir Len Hutton spent at the crease against Australia in 1938 and now only Gary Kirsten (878 minutes) and Hanif Mohammad (970 minutes) have registered longer knocks in Test cricket than Cook.
Another quirk from the England captain's masterclass, which included just the 18 fours, was that when it reached 783 minutes it exceeded the length of the fourth Ashes Test of the 2015 series at Trent Bridge!
243 v Windies, Headingley, 2017
After 16 innings without a Test century Cook was in need of another big score. Following the tough tour to India, Cook gave up the captaincy but, having stepped back into the ranks under Joe Root's leadership, a century eluded him in the series win against South Africa.
That all changed against the Windies as the former skipper went on to compile his third-highest Test score with an incredible display of focus in the day-night Test at Headingley.
Here's how Sky Sports Cricket's Nasser Hussain remembers it: "What amazed me was how fresh he looked when he came back out to field having been batting for nine hours and 40 minutes. Just imagine how dishevelled Michael Atherton would have looked after being in the middle for that long! It was tremendous mental and physical competence."
Facing the pink ball for the first time in the Test arena, the left-hander spent almost nine-and-a-half hours at the crease, hitting 33 fours off 407 balls as he racked up his fourth double ton. One more was to come...
244no v Australia, Melbourne, 2017
Cook had hit just 83 runs at an average of 13.83 in the first three Ashes Tests. Questions were being asked about his hunger to carry on at the highest level and even he admitted to being "embarrassed" by his Ashes showing in the series so far. Yet, Cook answered all his critics with what Michael Atherton described as one of his most fluent innings.
After 11 rather fruitless knocks, Cook returned to form with a record-breaking double hundred. He played all his customary cuts, clips and pulls and they were interspersed with some confident drives en route to a 164-ball ton, which completed a full house of hundreds across all five of Australia's major Test match venues.
The records tumbled as Cook past the previous best score by an England batsman at the MCG, Wally Hammond's 200 in 1928. He continued to rack up the landmarks, batting for more than 10 hours to secure the highest score by a visiting batsman in Melbourne, passing Viv Richards' 208 in 1984.