Cow Corner

Alastair Cook: A year to remember

Cow Corner

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On the week that Alastair Cook was presented with an MBE by the Queen for his outstanding performance against Australia Down Under, Cowers looks back on a truly sensational year for the England batsman.

To say Cook has been prolific this season would be like saying Shane Warne has had a slight makeover. The left-handed opener's exploits have been remarkable.

The 26-year-old plundered an incredible 766 runs in seven Ashes innings to anchor England's emphatic 3-1 victory - their first in Australia for 24 years.

He also went past 5,000 Test runs and, in so doing, became the second youngest batsman to reach the landmark after India's masterful Sachin Tendulkar.

Cook followed in the footsteps of England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower in attending a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony after the pair were each awarded OBEs for their efforts at the helm.

The Essex batsman - a former choirboy who attended St Paul's Cathedral School before gaining a scholarship to Bedford School where his talent was nurtured ahead of joining his county - has already notched up a staggering 19 Test centuries.

From making his debut with a second innings century in Nagpur back in March 2006, Cook has always showcased a prodigious talent despite an alarming pre-Ashes slump which almost cost him his place in the touring party at one stage.

A proverbial avalanche of runs followed Down Under: in the second innings of the first Ashes Test, Cook notched up 235 not out - the sixth best total by an Englishman in the history of the famous series.

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The runs continued to flow unabated as Cook compiled an innings of 148 in the second Test, 82 in the fourth and 189 in the fifth and final Ashes encounter at the SCG.

Cook has established himself as a stalwart of the national side, and his fledgling leadership of the one-day international team is widely regarded to represent just another step on the inevitable path towards assuming the role of England captain.

The batsman now has 5,868 Test runs to his name from 72 matches at an average of 49.72, with two further tons in pyjama cricket. These are not the stats of an average 26-year-old batsman.

Cook picked up another accolade in September as he scooped the Test Player of the Year award at the ICC Awards 2011 ceremony with England crowned the world's number one Test side after an emphatic series victory over India.

During the performance period - from August 11, 2010 to August 3, 2011 - Cook played 12 Tests and in 18 innings he scored 1302 runs at an average of 76.58, including six centuries and four half-centuries.

His 235 not out against Australia in Brisbane kick-started England's first Ashes victory away from home since 1986-87, and he has not looked back since.

Cook finished the Ashes with a phenomenal tally of runs, but his best batting effort came against India at Edgbaston, where his monumental 294 helped England seal the series and knock India off the number one Test spot.

Quite simply, it has been a phenomenal year for Cook and England.

With a Test series against South Africa and ODI clashes with Australia, 2012 could be equally distinguished for the modest and self-effacing 26-year-old.

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1st 2nd Match tally Opposition Venue Date
67 235* 302 Australia Brisbane 25 Nov 2010
148 - 148 Australia Adelaide 3 Dec 2010
32 13 45 Australia Perth 16 Dec 2010
82 - 82 Australia Melbourne 26 Dec 2010
189 - 189 Australia Sydney 3 Jan 2011
133 - 133 Sri Lanka Cardiff 26 May 2011
96 106 202 Sri Lanka Lord's 3 Jun 2011
55 - 55 Sri Lanka Southampton 16 Jun 2011
12 1 13 India Lord's 21 Jul 2011
2 5 7 India Nottingham 29 Jul 2011
294 - 294 India Birmingham 10 Aug 2011
34 - 34 India The Oval 18 Aug 2011

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