Former England captain David Gower believes Sir Alastair Cook deserves more credit than he is afforded after a stunning international career that saw him become England’s leading run-scorer.
Cook retired from the game last year with 12,145 Test runs to his name, putting him ahead of Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart, Gower and Kevin Pietersen in England’s all-time run-scoring list, yet critics suggest he lacked the flair to be placed alongside the game’s greats.
Many observers also questioned whether Cook was worthy of the knighthood he received at the start of 2019, but Gower has told Cricket365 that criticism of the former Essex opener is misplaced.
“There are many qualities that go into a great batsman, but the priority at the top of that list has to be volume of runs and on that score, Alistair Cook has an advantage over everyone in English cricket history,” said Gower, ahead of his theatre tour On the Front Foot, that gets under way across the country in April.
“We all like to see entertainers who will produce magical moments and wonderful innings from time to time, but the aesthetics are less important than the end result in many ways.
“Getting 60s on a regular basis and being respected as a great entertainer is fine, but the guy who can anchor an innings and end up with 160 is far more valuable to a team and that is what Cook did for a decade and more with England.
“There were questions over whether he should have got a knighthood, but his record speaks for itself and that run-scoring record will stand the test of time. He may not be remembered as the most glamorous or the most exciting cricketer England have produced at the top of the order, but look at the list of top run-scorers in the game and he is right up there with the greats.”
Gower believes one of England’s big priorities ahead of a summer that will include an Ashes series against Australia on home soil will be to find a replacement for Cook, with the recent Test series defeat in the West Indies highlighting weaknesses in England’s batting.
“Look back at the great Test sides and they always had a player or two at the top of the order that laid the platform for a strong batting performance,” he added.
“Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer were a wonderful opening pairing for Australia for many years, before them Greenidge and Haynes for the West Indies and when you look at England’s 2005 Ashes team, Marcus Trescothick was a player who could take the game away from the opposition in an opening couple of sessions.
“At this moment, we just don’t know what to expect from England’s top three, so they need to find the right personnel and balance in the opening positions ahead of an Ashes summer.
“England are clearly vulnerable in that area and relying on the No.4 to No.7 to rescue an innings time and again will not be successful.”
ENGLAND’S TOP FIVE TEST MATCH RUN-SCORERS
Alastair Cook – 12,145
Graham Gooch – 8,900
Alec Stewart – 8,463
David Gower – 8231
Kevin Pietersen – 8181
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