Five of the Best: Alastair Cook’s finest innings for England
12:32 06 December 2012
Essex batsman Alastair Cook today moved clear as the man with the most England Test centuries by reaching three figures for the 23rd time in the third Test against India in Kolkata.
Here, London24 looks at his five best hundreds.
104 not out v India in Nagpur - March 2006.
Cook came to prominence on debut with a marvellous ton but had it not been for several injuries to England’s side, he would not have even been in the country. The then 21-year-old was in the Caribbean with the A team when the SOS call arrived and he rewarded his selection by following up a first-innings 60 with an unbeaten century from 243 balls second time around - the 16th Englishman to hit three figures on debut.
110 v Pakistan at the Oval - August 2010.
Cook’s place in the team ahead of the forthcoming Ashes series was heavily under scrutiny following a run of low scores and this fine innings in London is widely recognised as the one that prevented him from the axe. He overcame a nervy start - edging three times through the slip cordon - and it was far from aesthetically pleasing, but Cook showed the battling qualities that went on to become his trademark, with his 110 exceeding his total from eight previous Test innings on home soil that summer.
235 not out v Australia in Brisbane - November 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 a scarcely believable 517 for one. 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 at Edgbaston - August 2011
Cook’s star continued to rise and although he had struggled in the previous two Tests at Lord’s and Trent Bridge, he claimed a remarkable seventh hundred in 18 innings in Birmingham before going on to register his highest first-class score. His concentration levels were second to none although he fell agonisingly short of a maiden triple ton when he skied Ishant Sharma to deep point. The damage was done, however, as England racked up 710 for seven declared before going on to seal an an innings-and-242-run victory, one that sealed their spot at the top of the ICC world rankings.
136 not out v India at Eden Gardens, Kolkata - December 2012
Cook wrote his name into the record books with his 23rd Test century - the most by any England batsman. This was his third consecutive hundred after taking charge of the team permanently as he once again led by example. The 27-year-old was given a huge stroke of luck on 17 when he was dropped by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip off Zaheer Khan. Cook made India pay for their profligacy with yet another fine innings in the sub-continent before bringing up his landmark ton off 179 balls. The innings also made him the youngest batsman to reach 7,000 Test runs.