32-year old Alastair Cook resigned as the England Test captain following four and half years at the helm. Cook took over the England captaincy in the year 2012, and called the shots in 59 Test matches, winning 24 of them, and losing 22 while 13 ended in a draw.
It is certain that the southpaw relished leading from the front, as he amassed a total of 4,844 runs as the England captain. The road seemed a daunting one from the very start, though. His name was dragged through the mud during the ugly sacking of controversial cricketer Kevin Pietersen. He later received a lot of flak and was also called a spineless leader while on national duty when things weren’t going his way.
But it wasn’t all dark and sombre, Cook had his fair share of joy throughout his captaincy stint. A redemption of sorts after winning the Ashes against Australia, and flagging their authority in what can be termed as the final frontier in India, among many.
Here are the five most memorable moments from Cook’s tenure as captain:
#1 England trump India away
It seemed like just another typical English tour of India, where the Trotts and the Montys would win a few battles while the Indians would savour another piece of silverware at their den. And the 1st Test at Ahmedabad boosted the above statement, as the English got beaten by nine wickets.
But a spectacular performance by Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar with the ball turned the tide in England’s favour and the visitors went on to level the series with a 10-wicket win in Mumbai.
Kolkata was no different, and once again it was the skipper who followed up on his 176 and 122 and led the charge with a 190, registering a century in his third consecutive Test match. The English bowlers got the better of the Indian batters in the second innings and at the end, a 41-run target was all Cook and his men had to chase to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Nagpur witnessed the only draw in the fixture, as the England side batted out 150-plus overs which resulted in the visitors clinching a convincing series win in India in as many as 28 years.
The opposition captain’s pitch plea hardly helped their matters and a team effort that featured Kevin Pietersen’s majestic 186, a few stubborn knocks from the middle order and a fine show with the ball, stood out for the three Lions.
Captain Cook was the chief architect, notching up 562 runs, that included three daddy hundreds. And in a rare instance, the spinners in the visitors’ pack outplayed the hosts.
#2 Cook retains the urn in his first assignment
The 2013 Ashes was Alastair Cook’s first series against Australia as the captain, and he didn’t fail to deliver. The Englishmen registered their third series win against Australia, a feat which took them 22 years to achieve.
The first Test turned out to be a close affair, with the hosts winning by just 14 runs after an inspiring performance from the Australian tail-enders early on. In the second Test, Ian Bell registered his third consecutive century in as many Ashes Tests, and Graeme Swann’s fifer floored Australia to their lowest score at Lord’s in 45 years.
The Australians came hard in Manchester, but all their efforts went in vain, as England drew the third Test, won the next one at Chester-le-Street and played out the final Test with a little bit of assistance from the rain to finish a 3-0 sweep. Skipper Cook notched up three fifties in that series apart from bagging the most catches (7).
#3 The redemption song at Ashes 2015
Nothing feels sweeter than the taste of redemption, and Alastair Cook and his men returned the favour of a painful 5-0 white-wash in Australia with a 3-2 series win in the year 2015 with which they retained the Ashes.
In a highly contested series, England won the 1st Test by 169 runs, courtesy a Joe Root classic (134, 60). But Australia came back hard, with a massive 405-run win in the 2nd game. Steven Smith’s double century was too good for England, as they folded for 103 in the fourth innings.
The hosts took an edge by winning the third Test by eight wickets and didn’t let the advantage slip, as they flushed Australia’s hope with an innings and 78-run win in the fourth Test, which also saw the Kangaroos sent packing for a mere 60 runs, as Stuart Broad wrapped up his career best figures of 8/15.
Australia did salvage some pride by handing the hosts an innings defeat in the final Test, but the damage was done. None of the Test matches lasted for five days, and in a series that will be remembered mostly for some fascinating bowling spells, Cook’s calm headed captaincy made it a series to cherish for the England fans.
#4 Beating India in 2014
It was a make or break case for Cook before the start of England’s home series against India in the year 2014. Under his captaincy, England lost a dramatic match against Sri Lanka and the captain’s batting woes compounded the misery.
The nightmare almost took shape for Cook as India registered a historic win at Lord’s in the 2nd Test match after the first Test ended in a draw. But an unbeaten 70 from the skipper’s bat and a brilliant show by Moeen Ali with the ball, brought England back to winnings ways.
India faced an innings defeat in the next Test, after Stuart Broad picked up six wickets for just 25 runs in the first innings and Ali bagged four in the second, resulting in a 2-1 lead with one match to go.
Cook and his men didn’t show much mercy as they pocketed another innings win, thereby winning the series 3-1. Cook’s return to form and a convincing series win at home meant the captain’s armband didn’t need a new sleeve.
#5 Shaking South Africa from the top
A series win against the No. 1 side in the world gave Cook immense pride and the feat coming away from home, made it all the more interesting. The visitors sealed a 241-run win in the first Test match that was hit by bad light and rain, and went on to draw a high scoring 2nd Test, which saw both the teams score well over 600.
A century from Joe Root and a 6-wicket haul from Stuart Broad derailed South Africa’s effort, and the visitors claimed a seven wicket win to take a 2-0 lead in the 4-match series. Kagiso Rabada’s 13-wicket haul did produce a win for the Proteas, but it was Cook’s men who took home the trophy and in the process, uncrowned the home side from the top spot.
It was also England’s first series win away from home under Cook’s leadership since 2012.