Can Alastair Cook overtake Sachin Tendulkar in Tests?
It was the summer of 2011. India were to travel to England for a full-fledged tour. MS Dhoni's men were on the highest of heights after lifting the World Cup earlier that year. England seemed like a perfect platform for Sachin Tendulkar to score his hundredth century, which had evaded him in the World Cup as well as the West Indies series that followed.
The Master Blaster came excruciatingly close to achieving the feat in the fourth Test of the series, but was dismissed by Tim Bresnan for a painful score of 91.
The series was all about England and their dominance over the longest format of the game, and nothing, including Tendulkar's unreal record could take that away from the hosts.
One of the biggest performances of the series came from the then 27-year-old Alaistair Cook, who scored a scintillating double century in the third match of the series.
Today, Tendulkar is three years into retirement and Cook stands strong at yet another double century under his belt. The latter now has a chance not only replicating but overtaking the former's records.
Alastair Cook is a name that warrants reliability, purpose and solidity at the top of England's Test batting order. The left-handed batsman is no longer a human when he takes guard on the crease, but a tireless run-machine.
He has been a consistent scorer for England ever since he was drafted into the team in 2006, when he scored a fifty and a hundred against India in his debut Test in Nagpur. The man from Gloucestershire hasn't look back since then.
Today, 11 years since that day, he has accumulated 11568 runs in 145 Test matches with 31 centuries and 55 half-centuries. The 32-year-old recently scored a clinical double hundred against West Indies in England's first day-night Test that was played at Edgbaston.
He is now 4,353 runs behind Tendulkar's tally of 15921. The top order batsman is extremely fit even at 32 years of age and was the last man standing in England's recent fitness test. He not only aced the yo-yo test that was conducted in the drill, but notched up the highest score in the team.
Apart from his ceaseless effort with the bat, it is instances like these that display Cook's refusal to give up and intense levels of concentration. These are the qualities that have ushered him to be the only man standing in race to catch up to Tendulkar's records as well.
If he retains his fitness levels and remains injury-free, Cook has a real chance of overtaking Tendulkar in terms of total Test runs. He does not play any other format of the game, which will thereby induce him to focus entirely on the longest format of the game. The has relinquished the captaincy to Joe Root and thus will not be shouldering any other responsibility apart from his concentrating on his batting.
With England slated to play substantial amount of Test cricket in the next two years, Cook has a magnificent opportunity to climb further to the apex built by Tendulkar.
He is the only active player to feature in the Top 20 highest run-getters of all time in Test cricket and finds himself in slot number ten of the list right now. With the Ashes coming up later this year, he has a solid chance of jumping to the fifth spot.
Let's take a look at the list of cricketers the English batsman will look to overtake:
The aforementioned stats clearly indicate that Cook is at the cusp of ultimate greatness in Test cricket.
However, can he break into its elite list and go past the greatest cricketer to have walked the field? Only time will tell whether the left hander can rewrite the record books.
One thing is for sure, though: no one is perched better than Cook to attain this ultimate glory!