Nuwan Pradeep delivered the perfect ball. It was full-ish. It angled in on Alastair Cook’s pads. Rarely does the England skipper miss out on clipping these for runs. Usually any runs will do. This time he needed four.
As the ball trickled to the square-leg rope a smile crept across the batsman’s face. He sheepishly raised his bat. He was only on five, but Cook’s relief looked greater than for any of his high-pressure hundreds.
The reason? He had just reached 10,000 Test-match runs. He is the first Englishman to do so and, at 31 years, five months and five days, is the youngest man of any nationality to join cricket’s elite batting club.
To celebrate the feat, here are the opener’s three best knocks according to Ladbrokes News:
109* v Bangladesh, Dhaka 2010
Cook averages 70.22 in the fourth innings of matches that England win. This is his only ton in that stretch.
Although the score and opposition may not stand out as particularly noteworthy, the context provides the significance.
Cook was deputising as captain for a resting Andrew Strauss in this series. This knock gave a glimpse of an ability to lead by example, knocking off 209 in partnership with Kevin Pietersen to claim a 2-0 win.
To this day, this also remains Cook’s quickest ton, scoring his 109 at a strike rate of 69.87.
263 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2015
No non-Asian batsman has more hundreds than the eight Cook has scored on that continent. His most recent was also his biggest.
In searing hot conditions, and responding to a mammoth first-innings total of 523 from the hosts, Cook compiled the third-longest innings – in terms of minutes – in Test history.
Let’s not forget that this display came three years after this same opposition had spun England to a whitewash series defeat. It made Cook’s show of defiance and concentration as impressive for its tone setting as much as its skill.
95 v India, Ageas Bowl 2014
If the eventual crawl beyond the 10,000-run mark became a burden for Cook, it was nothing like the weight on his shoulders ahead of the third Test against India two years ago.
England hadn’t won a red-ball match in 10 attempts before the Southampton assignment, while the skipper himself was on a dry spell of 27 innings without a century.
Although he fell five runs short of ending his wait, Cook returned to form with a gritty display. He scored 70* in the second innings to help England win that Test and had scores of 17, 79, 11, 13, 76, 59*, 105, 4, 16 and 162 in his next 10 innings.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.