I became the best I could become: Alastair Cook
"I have never been the most talented cricketer, I don't pretend I was, but I definitely think I got everything out of my ability"

Outgoing England record-setter Alastair Cook believes that he has given to his country all he possibly could, and that to become the best he could become was a source of immense personal satisfaction. Cook will retire from international cricket after his 161st Test, having etched his name in the record books as England’s all-time leading run-scorer and centurion.

In his first formal press conference since he announced Monday that the fifth and final Test between India and England at Kia Oval will be his last, Cook also revealed that quitting the game at the international level had been on his mind for six months.

“I can look back and say, I became the best I could become, that actually means quite a lot to me,” said Cook, who has scored an England-record 12, 254 Test runs and 32 centuries in 160 matches.  “I have never been the most talented cricketer, I don’t pretend I was, but I definitely think I got everything out of my ability. Everyone was talking as if I’d died. It’s nice when you hear so many nice words said about you. The last couple of days I have been back at home but I had a look last night. Hopefully this week can go well, score some runs and then I can go.”

The decision has been one a while coming, as Cook endured a lean run of form since he scored an unbeaten 244 at the MCG in December 2017. “It’s hard to put it into words but over the last six months there have been signs in my mind this was going to happen,” said the 33-year-old. “I always had been mentally tough and had that edge to everything I’ve done and that edge had kind of gone.”

Cook first informed England captain Joe Root before the fourth Test against India at Southampton, and then told head coach Trevor Bayliss during it. After England won the match by 60 runs to wrap up the series 3-1, Cook broke the news to his team-mates in a beer-fuelled emotional speech afterwards.

“I told Rooty before the game and then told Trevor during the game,” he said. “I was a couple of beers in, which I needed to be, otherwise I would have cried more than I actually did. I managed to hold it together. At the end of the game I said, ‘It might be good news, it might be sad for some, it might be happy for others but it’s time and I have done my bit. I will play one more game’. There was a little bit of silence, then Mo (Moeen Ali) said something, everybody laughed and then it was forgotten about.”