Cook savours his special moment
ALASTAIR Cook allowed his renowned powers of concentration the briefest break as he drank in for a moment his achievement at passing 10,000 Test runs.
The job was already done of course, with a trademark clip through midwicket to become the first Englishman and youngest ever worldwide to reach five-figures, before he looked for once beyond the 22 yards.
As England were cantering to a series-sealing nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second Investec Test at Chester-leStreet, he spotted his young daughter and Ben Stokes’ son playing a game of their own at the foot of the pavilion.
For Cook, also watched by wife Alice and her parents, the snapshot beyond the boundary provided personal context for his historic achievement.
It has taken him 10 years to join an elite 12 of the world’s greatest ever batsmen, headed by Sachin Tendulkar on 15,921.
The hard work has long been worthwhile for the England captain. But all can scarcely ever have been quite so right with the world as in the evening sunshine, at the end of a persistently cloudy Test, 10,000 runs in the bag and about to knock off a target of 79 for an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
Man-of-the-match James Anderson’s eight wickets here took him past 450 in Tests, for good measure, as England prevailed despite Dinesh Chandimal’s 126 which kept the hosts waiting after Sri Lanka had followed on 397 behind.
“When I was 20 odd not out I saw Elsie running around with Layton Stokes – and then you realise how special it all is,” said Cook. “It is a special moment for me to join the club and the company of the people who have scored 10,000 runs.”
He seemed sure at start of play to have to wait until next week at Lord’s, with England needing only five more Sri Lanka wickets for under 88 to win by an innings. But Chandimal had other ideas, and in the end Cook was grateful.
“Clearly, everyone has been talking about it over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “It should not play on your mind but it did, and I can’t deny that.”
The only shame for Cook was that his mum and dad made the highly reasonable call that he would not have a second innings, and therefore went home before the fourth day.
“The 10,000 has been a milestone that has driven me over the last few years,” he added.
“You get tested at the top of the order in all conditions against the best bowlers bowling with the new ball ... and I’m glad I have hung around long enough not to get dropped.”
There was satisfaction too, of course, at back-to-back victories - this second much harderearned than anticipated.
“To win a game by an innings and then by nine wickets is a good effort,” Cook said. “It was tough. The pitch died a death and was a bit more like Colombo than the Chester-le-Street we have known in the past.
“They made us work hard for it, and sometimes it is a bit sweeter that way because you feel you have earned it. It was a slog today and yesterday, and James Anderson’s five for 50 in those conditions showed his class.”
after Anderson pointed out his captain’s four-pint limit in the bar, the man himself confirmed there will be no exception - even for 10,000 runs.
“OK, I’ll be having my threeand-a-half pints,” he said. “One of them will be a shandy top ... as long as Jimmy buys me one.”
Dinesh Chandimal carves his way towards a century that restored Sri Lanka’s pride but couldn’t deny England taking a 2-0 series lead.