Thank You, Chef


In response to this morning’s announcement, Essex Cricket would like to place on record its wholehearted congratulations to Alastair Cook on a truly illustrious career.

The Club is delighted to have been Cook’s home county for the past two decades and is hugely grateful for all his efforts in an Essex shirt.

He hangs up his bat having established himself as one of the greatest to ever play our sport, and all at Essex Cricket wish him further great success in his future endeavours.

Cook’s maiden Test century on his debut is common knowledge, but his class was evident from even before that, with his first-class debut, at home to Nottinghamshire, delivering an unbeaten half-century.

Having hit 957 red-ball runs across his first two summers, including a first hundred against Leicestershire in 2004, Cook would go on to achieve a truly breakout year amid the backdrop of a watershed summer for English cricket.

He was described by former Essex and England captain Keith Fletcher before the 2005 season began as “one of the most exciting prospects I’ve ever seen,” and he roundly backed that up in the months that followed.


Then aged 20, he was capped by the Club in May 2005 prior to a Sunday League match against Glamorgan, and as England crowned off the summer with an unforgettable Ashes win, Cook hit a total of 1,466 first-class runs.

Even that weighty total did not include a sparkling 214 against the Australians in a tour match at Chelmsford, in which he proudly stood firm against a bowling battery containing Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, and Shaun Tait.

Perhaps it was his technique, fluency, or casual domination of a touring attack that took 895 Test wickets between them that caught the eye, but in any event, Cook received full England honours less than six months later.

Despite the inevitability with which many at Chelmsford would have viewed the call, which came from India, it was unexpected for the man himself, who was in the West Indies with the second-string Three Lions at the time.

Having initially been a modern-day Christopher Columbus and ended up in the Caribbean instead of the subcontinent, he arrived in Nagpur to face his first ball in the Test arena, from S. Sreesanth, on 1st March 2006.

He started as he meant to go on, with a fifty and then a century, and twelve years and 12,472 runs later, against the same opponent, he received a handshake from every fielder as he departed the middle at the Oval.

A career in the international arena was bookended by two centuries, and there was no more fitting way for the man who is still his country’s most prolific run-scorer of all time to bow out.

Although he repeatedly put the Australians to the sword across six Ashes series, just as he had done in that tour match, it was curious how many of Cook’s seminal moments seemed to come against India.

Indeed, his only Test wicket, taken on placid fifth-day track at Trent Bridge in 2014, was Ishant Sharma, caught behind by Matt Prior; he will forever hold a Test match bowling average of just seven, suggesting a hidden talent!

He was also part of the 2011 England side that whitewashed the then-ranked world number one Indians to take the top spot themselves, notably hitting his highest individual score of 294 in the third Test at Edgbaston.

There have been many thousands of runs for Essex, too, from that Nottinghamshire debut to the low-key exit he desired at Northamptonshire, as he racked up 15,077 in all formats.

During the former, he shared a dressing room with Andy Flower, his future England coach, and Ronnie Irani, while his last outing saw the presence of six players who were still in primary school on the occasion of his debut.

He won six titles with the Eagles, from the Club’s first County Championship title in 25 years, to back-to-back Sunday League trophies either side of his England Test debut.

Everyone connected to Essex recognises the invaluable nature of Cook’s contributions over the past 20 years, and has their own personal treasured memories with him.

“It’s been a pleasure and a privilege in equal measure to share a field with Chef,” said Club Captain, Tom Westley. “His record speaks for itself, but my experiences with him as a person have been nothing but positive too.

“Not only is he one of England’s and Essex’s greatest cricketers, but what sets him apart is the person and human that he is. He is the epitome of ‘team first’.

“He has always strived to improve as a person, and one thing that has struck me over the last few years has been his humour. He has miraculously become very funny!

“He’s been a wonderful friend within and outside of cricket, and it’s been an honour to share many of my most treasured memories with him over such a long period of time.

“Like many, he has helped me in some of my toughest times, purely just by being Chef. I, we, and the whole of Essex will miss him so much.”

John Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer, added: “Many great players have walked out to the middle at Chelmsford, but by sheer weight of runs, Alastair is undoubtedly up there with the very best of them.

“I know from my conversations with our members and supporters that it’s been a great pleasure and privilege to watch him bat here at Chelmsford, and I can also attest to that.

“Both on behalf of the Club and from a personal point of view, I would like to thank Alastair for all he has done for his county, his country, and his sport, and I wish him the very best as he departs as a true legend.”