When Alastair Cook walks out to open the batting in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong, it will be as England’s most capped cricketer in the longest format.
Since Cook’s debut in India ten years ago, the Three Lions have played 134 Test matches. That he has appeared in 133 of them says everything about his remarkable durability.
Such is the circle of cricketing life, however, that for his next outing, which will surpass the 133-cap record held by Alec Stewart, Cook will be partnered by a debutant at the top of the order.
Either 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed or Ben Duckett – two years Hameed’s senior – will become the 12th brother in arms of Cook’s career.
Eight of those have come since Andrew Strauss called it quits in 2012 and none have managed to hang around for longer than 20 innings.
England’s top order has been the clear weak link in the team despite its two best batsman (Cook and Joe Root) sitting in the first three on the card.
In the past 24 months, the first and third wickets have been two of England’s least productive partnerships – in terms of runs scored – in the top seven.
With that in mind, the onus on Cook and Root to score heavily is huge. That burden is arguably larger for Cook as captain of the side, and with a young partner joining him in this series the pressure is ramped up even further.
But if there’s one thing that the 31-year-old guarantees, it’s an ability to handle the strain. No player born outside of Asia has scored more runs on that continent and an example-setting performance against the Tigers should be expected.
Cook’s last two man-of-the-match awards both came when playing in Asia and the 8/1 about him scooping another here looks a fantastic bet.
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