Cook explains why he ‘lost fire’ playing Test cricket for England

ANTIGUA, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA - JANUARY 3 Ex England captain Alastair Cook during a net session at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on January 30, 2019 in St John's, Antigua and Barbuda. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

England legend Sir Alastair Cook admits his batting style took a mental toll in Test cricket, particularly towards the end of his career.

A technically sound but defensive batsman, Cook is England’s highest run scorer in Test cricket.

As a prolific schoolboy cricketer, he “was always drilling the defensive shots as a 14 or 15-year-old”, but towards the end of his career, the way in which the likes of David Warner were approaching the game made him reconsider his options.

Looking back on his retirement on the Sky Sports podcast, Cook explained, “I was a grafter, I had to graft for everything. I’m not ever going to compare myself to David Warner but sometimes I watch him bat and I’m incredibly jealous that he gets to 50 off 30 balls, it’s an hour into the day and he’s already sorted. He knows that whatever happens, [he] hasn’t really failed. Obviously he’ll be thinking he has to go and get a hundred [… but] if I was getting fifty, it was a three-hour job most times. There’s a lot of work going into it.

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“Eventually, after grinding my way through it a number of times, with the captaincy, I didn’t have that much more to give, unfortunately.”

Cook enjoyed the distinction of being a rare player to make a century both in his debut and final Test, bowing out on a high at The Oval. He had announced his decision to step away from international cricket just before that final Test of the series against India, but insisted it wasn’t a “snapshot” call.

“The decision to retire from international cricket wasn’t just made after the Trent Bridge Test (against India in 2018),” he said.

“Something was happening for 18 months before. It’s a sad thing to say, when the stuff you dream about, you just lose that little bit of fire.”