If England can’t find one opener, how can they find

Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook celebrates on his way to scoring 235 not out in the second innings of the 1st Test, England tour of Australia at Brisbane, Nov 25-29 2010.


The not unexpected news that England opener and ex-captain, Alastair Cook, has announced his retirement from international duty at the end of the current summer, gives the selectors a headache.

Since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012 England have struggled through 13 different Test Match opening partnerships, all involving Alastair Cook and A.N. Other, who hasn’t stuck around for much, either during the innings or during the series.

It hasn’t exactly helped Cook over those last six years having a number of players who aren’t up to it at this level. For all the runs Cook wasn’t really built to be the one that had to keep the scoreboard ticking over while the new boy found his feet.

Most have got a hundred to their name but most ended up averaging somewhere in the 20s, low 30s at best. Some were unlucky, Carberry was unfortunate to be picked for the Ashes down under. While Hameed looked like he could be the one until his club buggered him up with one day stuff. So many of the rest thought Test cricket was one day cricket.

If you take out Joe Root none of them ever looked like they were going to match Cook for the amount of games, consecutive games, hundreds and runs scored. All of which Cooks holds the England records for at the time of his announcement…

Most games: 160
Most consecutive games: 158 (also world record)
Most games as captain: 59
Most runs: 12,254
Most hundreds: 32
Most 50: 56
Most catches by outfielder: 173

He’s the youngest England player to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 and 6,000 runs, while being the youngest ever to 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 runs and the first ever opener, the toughest position, to 12,000.

Being an opener probably led to him having a lower average in England than most of the other countries he played in. It was only lower in New Zealand and South Africa. Knocking on 50 in Australia while over it in India, he is the highest-scoring non-Asian in Asia.

The high point being that Ashes series in 201/11, 766 runs at an average of 127.66.

That is a hard act to replace.

But it had to come, he’s 33 but time was running out as he was struggling more and more, the lack of much decent at the other end while bowlers now know how to target him and he doesn’t know how to combat it. He’d got through tough patches before, came back, came back stronger, but if you are honest he had a limited technique that he’s too old to expand now that probably caused him to admit there is nothing left in the tank.

When you can’t replace Strauss, how do replace Strauss and Cook?

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