England’s 33-year-old legendary opening batsman Alastair Cook has had a dream goodbye to international cricket as the southpaw ended his 12-year association with Test cricket with scores of 71 and 147 in his final match.
The Oval was packed to witness England’s leading run-scorer till date. A living legend, Cook’s tryst with records continued. After a long struggle since the double century against Australia in the 2017-18 Ashes, the player perhaps had saved his best in his farewell Test.
The two innings of craftsmanship brought back memories of his former self. England sealed the ongoing 5-match Test series against India by a 4-1 margin. And the position they are in at the moment means that another victory is on the cards.
As Cook bids adieu from cricket, we look at some of the other legendary cricketers, who played their final Test against India.
Steve Waugh – Australia
Regarded as one of the best Aussie skippers ever, Steve Waugh in itself was a revolution in cricket. A thorough gentleman and an ambassador of the sport, Waugh took over as Australia’s Test captaincy in 1998-99. Under his leadership, the Test team won 16 consecutive matches.
Waugh had his own space and won a total of 41 Tests out of 57 matches as captain. This feat in itself is a no mean achievement. He played his final Test against India at the SCG in 2004. He scored 40 and 80 in two innings in the drawn Test against the Indian side led by Sourav Ganguly.
Waugh finished with 168 Test caps for Australia. His batting was an art in itself and the range of shots he possessed was clean and composed. A silky player, Waugh will be remembered for bringing the aura in the Australian set-up that was passed down to his successors Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
Jacques Kallis – South Africa
The best ever all-rounder of all time – Kallis was a consistent performer to have graced the game. The legend was well respected across the world and his simple nature helped him don the charisma the team needed for such a long time.
He played his final Test against India in December 2013 at the Centurion. Like Cook, Kallis ended his career with a knock of 115 in the final innings to finish with 13,289 runs beside picking 292 scalps.
It was also his 45th Test ton as the Proteas won the match by 10 wickets. Kallis left a void in the Proteas side that is still left to be filled. A champion of the game, the all-rounder boasted of abilities that made him tick for a long time and that too on a high level unmatched by many.
Adam Gilchrist – Australia
One of the best wicket-keepers of all time, Adam Gilchrist called it a day against India in 2008. The aggressive batsman known for his ability to clear the ropes with ease ended with 5,570 runs in 96 Tests. He scored 14 and took 6 catches in his final Test held at the Adelaide.
The run-feast in the match saw it being drawn with a plethora of tons being scored by batsmen from either side. Gilchrist retired with cheers all around as fans flocked the stadium and cheered for their hero. He is still regarded as Australia’s best ever wicket-keeper and has been an inspiration for many in the game across the world.
His glove work was extraordinary as well and only MS Dhoni came close to him as a keeper-batsman in the format.
Kumar Sangakkara – Sri Lanka
Kumar Sangakkara was regarded as one of the elite Test batsmen, who belonged in the bracket of Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis and Ponting to name a few. He brought a certain sort of dynamism and panache in terms of batting in the game.
The Lankan legend played his final Test against India at the P Sara Oval stadium in 2015. Sanga ended his career with 12,400 runs that included a stupendous feat of 38 centuries. Along with Mahela Jayawardena, the left-handed batsman took Lankan cricket to great heights.
His last match was his 134th career Test and he ended with scores of 32 and 18. Unfortunately, he couldn’t help Lanka win the game, as they lost by 278 runs.
Alastair Cook – England
Cook, another legend of the game, will join these illustrated specialists in playing his last Test against India. Cook is England’s all-time record run-scorer with 12,472 runs. He has also hit 33 tons and 57 fifties.
Cook signed off with a bang and helped England consolidate their promising position in the 5th Test against India at the Oval. Known as the ‘Chef’, Cook smashed 71 in the first innings against India and followed it up with a trademark 147.
His unbeaten 2nd innings ton saw him surpass Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara in terms of Test runs. Cook’s love for India in Tests is well known as he enjoyed some of his best knocks against the Men in Blue. With a century today, he became the only player in the history of the game to score a century and a half-century in his both debut and farewell Tests.
Interestingly, both came against the same opposition India. The 33-year-old overtook Steve Waugh (32) in terms of Test centuries and has the tenth highest number of Test tons.