Alastair Cook leads his team off the field on Day 4
Alastair Cook leads his team off the field on Day 4 (getty Images)

Former England captain Nasser Hussain is mighty impressed with the way Alastair Cook bid goodbye to Test cricket by scoring a memorable century against world’s top-ranked team. Cook scored 147 in his final innings on Day 4 of the ongoing fifth Test against India on Monday.

Coming into the Test, Cook had managed just 109 runs across seven innings of the series. He scored double of that tally in two innings – 71 in the first followed by 147 in the second.

“If anyone was capable of signing off with a big hundred after a difficult summer, it was Alastair Cook,” Hussain wrote in his column for Daily Mail. “After the week he’s had, with all the emotion and all the interviews he’s had to do, to be able to dig deep once more speaks volumes for the man.”

On September 3, Cook announced that the fifth and final Test against India will be his last in an England shirt. In a release, he spoke about how he has “given everything and there is nothing left in the tank.”

Hussain said his performance at The Oval was a reflection of how he has gone about his game during his 12-year-old career. “He said before this game that he felt he had always squeezed every last drop out of his ability and that’s exactly what he would have wanted to do here. Sometimes in your last game, you have the attitude that what will be will be.

“But Cook’s not that sort of lad. He would not have wanted to say goodbye without giving his absolute all. It was a fitting farewell for a legend of the game,” Hussain wrote.

Hussain said the extended standing ovation Cook received on reaching 33rd Test century was fitting considering his success as a batsman and for “the dignity he’s brought to the game.”

Following his return to form, there are suggestions that Cook should reconsider the decision. However, Hussain says Cook knows his race has ended.

“Some people will say he should reconsider his decision to retire and go to Sri Lanka to help England on the turning tracks they’re going to face out there. But it was never really a question of whether Cook was still capable of scoring runs. It was about his appetite, and he said himself he didn’t have that edge any more.

“He’s said in the past that when he’s batting at the other end from a team-mate, he can’t believe how easily batting comes to a guy like Joe Root. Despite all his runs, batting has never come that easily to Cook. Scoring nearly 12,500 Test runs has taken it out of him. He knows his race is run,” Hussain, who played 96 Tests for England, said.

Like Cook, Hussain also singed off on a high, hitting a century in his final Test for England in May 2004. But unlike Cook, Hussain didn’t make his intention public.

The manner in which Cook rode the expectations despite his struggles throughout the series, Nasser wrote, is remarkable and an example for England batsman to emulate.

“How he [Cook] managed to put all that expectation to the back of his mind, when he knew that everyone turning up to the Oval wanted him to convert his overnight 46 into another Test hundred is remarkable.

“Just as remarkable was the fact that he did it after the summer he’s had, with the Dukes ball swinging and seaming all over the place. He showed that the moment conditions swung in his favour, he was tough enough to compile a score.

“He managed to unfrazzle his mind. And that may just be the biggest lesson some of these England batsmen can learn from Alastair Cook.”