Cook is the GREATEST! Captain marvel breaks record for most England Test tons aged just 27 (…and the bad news for India is he's not done yet!)
12:00 GMT, 6 December 2012
Alastair Cook has become England's all-time leading Test century maker at the age of just 27 after reaching his 23rd hundred on the second day of the third Test against India in Kolkata today.
Cook overtook the previous record, jointly held alongside Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and current team-mate Kevin Pietersen, in his 86th match for his country.
England's captain notched his third ton in as many Tests on the tour – and he is also the first batsman to score five centuries in his first five Tests as captain in Test cricket.
Leading from the front: Alastair Cook hit his 23rd Test century on Thursday
Lawrence Booth: Wisden editor on why Captain Cook's remarkable runscoring will go on and on…
Statistics can mislead, but in Alastair Cook’s case they tell a story that brooks no argument.
When he drove Ishant Sharma through the covers for three in third over after tea, he became the youngest player to score 7,000 Test runs – younger even than Sachin Tendulkar, the man most usually associated with these dizzyling landmarks.
Tendulkar was 28 years and 193 days to Cook’s 27 years and 347 days, although he needed only 136 innings to Cook’s 151. But we’re splitting hairs.
The point is this: by the time Cook retires, we’ll look back at the 7,000-runs business and wonder what all the fuss was about.
We’ll also shrug at the fact that this was the day he went past Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Kevin Pietersen to register his 23rd Test hundred.
And, by the time the series has run its course at Nagpur, we may feel underwhelmed by his fifth century in his first five Tests as captain – a unique achievement.
His innings today summed up his career: rock-solid concentration, but with the capacity to learn. He may not have played a more unexpected shot in his life than the shimmy towards Ravi Ashwin which resulted in the straightest of sixes, right elbow high as if in defiance of his penchant for the leg side.
Since the only quiet year of his career in 2008, when he averaged 36 and failed to score a Test hundred, Cook has adapted his game bit by bit while only occasionally forgetting that his first task was to score runs.
He learned, in 2010, that too much technical tinkering wasn’t good for the soul, saving his Test career with a century at The Oval against Pakistan, then applying the lesson during a relentless Ashes.
He learned, in 2011, that he could play one-day cricket, striking at 90 when many thought him one-dimensional.
And he has relearned, in 2012, that he can bat in Asia – a truism that was evident on his debut at Nagpur more than six years ago, but was in danger of being forgotten during the traumas of the UAE and Galle.
Cook turns 28 on Christmas Day. The worry for bowlers everywhere is that there are more lessons to come.
Cook is also the youngest batsman in history to 7,000 runs, beating even the great Sachin Tendulkar, a milestone he passed with his 88th on the second afternoon of the third Test as he and Nick Compton consolidated England's advantage over India.
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Cook's ton at Lord's last June
104 v India, Nagpur, 2006
105 v Pakistan, Lord's, 2006
127 v Pakistan, Old Trafford, 2006
116 v Australia, WACA, 2006
105 v West Indies, Lord's, 2007
106 v West Indies, Old Trafford, 2007
118 v Sri Lanka, Galle, 2007
139* v West Indies, Bridgetown, 2009
160 v West Indies, Chester-le-Street, 2009
118 v South Africa, Durban, 2009
173 v Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2010
109* v Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2010
110 v Pakistan, The Oval, 2010
235* v Australia, The Gabba, 2010
148 v Australia, Adelaide, 2010
189 v Australia SCG, 2011
133 v Sri Lanka, Cardiff, 2011
106 v Sri Lanka, Lord's, 2011
294 v India, Edgbaston, 2011
115 v South Africa, The Oval, 2012
176 v India, Ahmedabad, 2012
122 v India, Mumbai, 2012
136* v India, Kolkata, 2012
Cook is congratulated by Paul Collingwood during the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last January
Cook's ton against Pakistan at the Oval in August 2010 possibly saved his England career (left) and it's all smiles after hitting a century at Durban in December 2009 in the drawn series against South Africa (right)
Cook was first made captain during the tour to Bangladesh in 2010, where he hit two hundreds
It all began when Cook scored his maiden century on his Test match debut in Nagpur in March 2006 (left)
and the young opening batsman celebrates another early ton against Pakistan at Lords in July 2006 (right)
England's top 10 centurions
23 centuries in 86 matches
22 in 85
22 in 90*
22 in 108
22 in 114
21 in 100
20 in 82
20 in 118
19 in 79
18 in 82
*yet to bat in 91st Test
All-time top 10 centurions
Sachin Tendulkar (India)
51 tons in 192* matches
Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
44 in 158*
Ricky Ponting (Australia)
41 in 168
Rahul Dravid (India)
36 in 164
Sunil Gavaskar (India)
34 in 125
Brian Lara (West Indies)
34 in 131
Steve Waugh (Australia)
32 in 168
Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)
31 in 135*
Matthew Hayden (Australia)
30 in 103
Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
30 in 113*
*denotes still active
7,000 not out! Cook's record-breaking career by numbers
60 & 104 not out – Cook's scores on his Test debut, against India in March 2006.
294 – His highest Test score, against India in August 2011.
23 – Cook became the first England batsman to make 23 Test centuries when he reached three figures against India in Kolkata on Thursday.
27 years, 347 days – His age as he became the youngest batsman to reach 7,000 Test runs.
86 – The number of Tests Cook took to reach those two landmarks.
50.34 – Cook's Test average at the end of today's play.
Five – Cook has now made centuries in his first five Tests as England captain, including two Tests against Bangladesh as a stand-in in 2010.
29 – The number of Test half-centuries he has made, giving him a superb conversion rate of 44 per cent from fifties to hundreds.
26 – However, he went 26 innings without reaching three figures between March 2008 and February 2009.
766 – His cumulative runs in the 2010-11 Ashes series.
3,536 and nine – his tally of runs and centuries before his 25th birthday, both comfortable England records.
214 – his score for Essex against the touring Australians in 2005 which helped bring him to England's attention.