LONDON: England batsman Alastair Cook cried when he broke the news of his retirement to his team-mates but said on Wednesday that burn-out was not behind his decision to bring the curtain down on his international career after more than a decade.
The 33-year old opener announced on Monday that he was retiring from England duty after this week’s fifth Test against India, saying there was ‘nothing left in the tank’.
Cook said he informed his team-mates about his retirement plans after their 60-run victory over India in the fourth Test at Southampton but had told captain Joe Root before the match and head coach Trevor Bayliss while it was going on, but the rest of the squad found out in an emotional speech afterwards.
“I told Rooty before the game and then told Trevor during the game,” Cook told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the final Test at The Oval. “I gulped down a couple of beers in and I needed to be, otherwise I’d have cried more than I actually did. There was a little bit of silence, then Mo [Moeen Ali] said something, everybody laughed and it was forgotten about.”
Cook has endured a poor run of form with the bat in nine Tests this year in which he has averaged 18.62 runs compared with a career average of 44.88.
Asked if he had considered requesting a sabbatical to reassess his game, Cook said: “It did cross my mind briefly, as the decision became clear in my mind.
“But if you are looking over the last two or three years, I haven’t played a huge amounts of games, and I’ve never felt that getting on another plane has been the struggle.
“It’s hard to put it into words, but over the last six months there have been signs in my mind that this [retirement] was going to happen. I always had been mentally tough and had that edge to everything I’ve done and that edge had kind of gone.”
Friday’s Test against India will mark the end of Cook’s 12-year international career, during which he has become the nation’s highest run-scorer in Tests with 12,254 in 160 outings.
England are 3-1 ahead and have wrapped up the series but Cook is determined to play well and enjoy one last Test victory.
“It would be fantastic [to bow out on a high], but it would be great for England to win most importantly — 4-1 sounds better than 3-2. If I can play a good innings, that would be fantastic,” he added. “I can look back and say I became the best player I could have become and that means a lot to me.”
Cook will leave the game as the country’s most decorated player, having maximized his talent to its fullest. “I can look back and say, I became the best I could become, that actually means quite a lot to me,” he said. “I have never been the most talented cricketer, I don’t pretend I was, but I definitely think I got everything out of my ability.
“Everyone was talking as if I’d died. It’s nice when you hear so many nice words said about you. The last couple of days I have been back at home but I had a look the other night. Hopefully this week can go well, score some runs and then I can go.”
Cook has been given an extra incentive to go out with a century after rock legend Mick Jagger offered a charity reward.
There will be an added bonus for runs scored by England and India thanks to Jagger, who is to donate £20,000 to the Chance to Shine charity for any individual century in the fifth Test.
The bowlers are not being left out on either side, with the same amount on offer for a five-wicket haul.
If one of them manages a three wickets or any other batsman hits a half-century that will be worth £10,000 for the charity, who provide opportunities for young people to play and follow cricket through involvement in state schools and deprived areas.
Rolling Stones frontman Jagger said: “I follow England — the game in general, in fact — from wherever I am in the world and thought this would be a fun way to make some money for Chance to Shine.”
Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2018