A batting style defined by determination and ability to hunker down might have brought Alastair Cook record runs, but he admits to it taking a mental toll, especially towards the end of his career.
A technically sound batsman, Cook found most success in Test cricket, where he is England’s highest run-getter. It was the batting philosophy he grew up with: Even as a prolific schoolboy cricketer, he “was always drilling the defensive shots as a 14 or 15-year-old”.
But, towards the end of his career, the grafting nature of his game made him reconsider his options, even leaving him “jealous” of someone like David Warner, who made batting look easy, the former England skipper said in an interview.
Do you think Test cricket has become more exciting to watch in recent years?
Sir Alastair Cook speaking to @Ben_Wisden on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast on why he thinks it has done.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 27, 2019
Looking back on his retirement on the Sky Sports podcast, Cook explained, “I was a grafter, I had to graft for everything. I’m not ever going to compare myself to David Warner but sometimes I watch him bat and I’m incredibly jealous that he gets to 50 off 30 balls, it’s an hour into the day and he’s already sorted. He knows that whatever happens, [he] hasn’t really failed. Obviously he’ll be thinking he has to go and get a hundred [… but] if I was getting fifty, it was a three-hour job most times. There’s a lot of work going into it.
“Eventually, after grinding my way through it a number of times, with the captaincy, I didn’t have that much more to give, unfortunately.”
Cook enjoyed the distinction of being a rare player to make a century both in his debut and final Test, bowing out on a high at The Oval. He had announced his decision to step away from international cricket just before that final Test of the series against India, but insisted it wasn’t a “snapshot” call.
“The decision to retire from international cricket wasn’t just made after the Trent Bridge Test (against India in 2018),” he said. “Something was happening for 18 months before. It’s a sad thing to say, when the stuff you dream about, you just lose that little bit of fire.”