A second-innings salvo of some 130 runs saw Alastair Cook ink a 25th international Test century into the cricketing annals during the second Test against New Zealand, leaving him just four tons short of Aussie willow legend Donald Bradman in the all-time 100s chart.
The England skipper is just seven years into his international Test career and already finds himself 16th on the list of most prolific centurions. Former South Africa skipper Graham Smith and West Indies legend Sir Garfield Sobers – both of whom authored 26 three-figure Test scores – are next in the left-hander’s sights.
Cook has made one short of half as many centuries as list-leader Sachin Tendulkar, whose 51 Test tons came in 198 matches.
Having participated in 92 matches for his country already he can be expected to mount a fair assault on the “Little Master’s” total if matching the likes of Raul Dravid and Jacques Kallis – second and fourth most prolific centurions respectively – in recording careers of 14 years at the highest level.
However the figures suggest he may have to find even more consistency if he’s to achieve that lofty goal, with only Smith of the 15 men above him on the list having recorded a lower batting average than the England man during the course of their careers. 13 of the top 15 century-makers averaged more than 50.
Cook has so far participated in three Ashes series for his country, finding himself on the winning side in the last two renewals after making a sobering debut in the 5-0 whitewash in Australia of 2006/07.
He played a pivotal role in the most recent Ashes when vice-captain to Andrew Strauss and plundered just four runs shy of 200 more than the series’ next highest scorer Michael “Mr Cricket” Hussey.
England are 1/4 to retain the urn for the third time in succession under Cook this term, whilst they can be backed at odds of 1/2 to do so with a series victory.
Cook’s country have registered three consecutive Ashes series wins just three times since the rivalry was given its famous and idiosyncratic name back in 1882. With Australia winning eight series on the bounce from the end of the 1980s into the current century England last posted a hat-trick of successive wins in 1981.