From the square of Bedford School to the plush outfield of Lord’s, and many international miles in between, Sir Alastair Cook has called time on his cricket career at the age of 38.
The former England captain retired from test match cricket in 2018 but has turned out for Essex since then, with his final match against Northamptonshire in the County Championship.
Such was his longevity and class, many England cricket fans were clamouring for his return to the international scene as late as 2022 as the national side continued their search for proven opening batsman, but now that idea has been well and truly put to bed.
Bedford School was one of the arenas in which Cook began to flourish with bat in hand, attending the school from 1998 to 2003, and the scorer of 12,472 test match runs continues to tend to his farm in Bedfordshire.
Cook also scored five one day international hundreds, alongside a host of List A tons plus a total of 74 first class centuries.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Cook paid tribute to the sport that sent him around the world.
“I will never underestimate the privilege I have had to play cricket. I will always be grateful for what the game has given to me. Now, I hope the Bedfordshire Farmers will find space for a has-been ‘all-rounder’ somewhere in their lower order.”
Rarely flash, but always dependable
Sir Alastair Cook, known affectionately by team mates and fans alike as ‘Chef’, made his test match debut against India in Nagpur, scoring a second innings century – one of 33 test match hundreds across a distinguished 12-year test career – to secure a draw.
He would also make a second innings century against India in his final test match in 2018, making him one of the few to open and close their careers with hundreds.
For Bedfordians, he remains one of the town’s finest sporting exports, and will be remembered for his grit and determination in grinding out innings’ at the top of the order; a dying breed in a cricket arena now full of gung-ho attacking batsmen.
Cook sometimes turns out for Bedfordshire Farmers, who compete in friendly matches as well as charity competitions, and with professional cricket now a thing of the past, his hope is to turn out more for his local charity team.