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Cook calls time on illustrious England career: Former captain to retire after Oval Test

The former England captain has made 160 Test appearances for his country, including a world-record 158 in a row, but will bring the curtain down on an illustrious career at the elite level following the clash with India, which starts on Friday

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Sam Morshead | 9/3/2018 at 10:53 AM

England batsman Alastair Cook is to retire from international cricket

Alastair Cook is to retire from international cricket at the end of the ongoing series against India.

The former England captain has made 160 Test appearances for his country, including a world-record 158 in a row, but will call time on an illustrious career at the elite level following the final clash with the Indians at the Kia Oval, which starts on Friday. He will continue to play county cricket for Essex in 2019.

Cook is England's record runscorer in Tests, having accumulated 12,254 across 289 innings at an average of 44.88 since making his debut in India in 2006.

The Bedfordshire native captained his country in 59 matches - no one has taken charge of the team on more occasions - winning 24, losing 22 and drawning 13.

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Cook has played 160 Tests for his country

He also played 92 ODIs and T20Is, and has a career haul of 15,519 runs in international cricket. No one has managed more for England. He has scored 32 Test tons, nine more than his nearest competitor, Kevin Pietersen.

The 2018 summer has been a difficult one for the Essex opener, however.

After making 70 in his first innings of the Pakistan series, at Lord's, Cook has failed to go beyond 50 since. Against India, he has averaged 15.57 with a top score of 29 and after making 12 and 17 in the fourth Test at Southampton his average dropped below 45 for the first time since November 2011.

Cook admitted in the spring that he had contemplated retirement during a largely barren Ashes campaign.

“To bat as badly as I did for pretty much two months and then for 10 hours bat as well as I’ve ever done was quite strange. But it showed I’ve still got it. There were some dark moments on that tour when I could have said “I don’t need this anymore” and just jacked it in. But to keep going and then deliver like that proved I’ve got something,” he said in March.

“You always doubt yourself. That’s a natural thing. It doesn’t get any easier the more you play. When a slightly older player isn’t scoring many runs it’s an easy story to write. Is he going to give up? Is he thinking about it?”

“I questioned myself when it got tough. Am I still good enough to play at the real elite level? I knew the hunger hadn’t gone but was it all worth it? Melbourne was as hard as it could be mentally because I was thinking ‘if I get another couple of low scores things are really going to get hard for me.’"

Now, he has decided to step away from the team to whom he has given so much over a 12-year period.

“After much thought and deliberation over the last few months I have decided to announce my retirement from international cricket at the end of this Test series against India," he said in a statement.

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The opener has hit more than 15,000 international runs

“Although it is a sad day, I can do so with a big smile on my face knowing I have given everything and there is nothing left in the tank. I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game. The thought of not sharing the dressing room, again, with some of my teammates was the hardest part of my decision, but I know the timing is right.

“I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt. So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country.

“There are too many people to thank individually, but a special mention must go to the Barmy Army and all supporters for their constant encouragement for the team and also a special mention to Graham Gooch. As a seven year-old I queued for his autograph outside Essex County Cricket Club and years later was so fortunate to have him mentoring me. Graham was my sounding board, especially in the early years of my career, spending hour after hour throwing balls at me with his dog stick. He made me realise you always need to keep improving whatever you are trying to achieve.

“My family and I have had 12 wonderful years fulfilling my dreams and this could not have been done without them. So I wish to thank my parents and brothers, my wife, Alice, and her family for their quiet, unwavering support behind the scenes. As cricketers, who travel frequently, we often don’t realise just how important our families are to our success.

“I would also like to thank Essex County Cricket Club for their help and support ever since I was 12, and I can’t wait to get fully involved with them in the 2019 season.

“I wish the England team every success in the future, and I will be watching with great excitement.”

More follows.

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His last Test will be at the Oval from Friday

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