‘Was tough to face Ishant’

FOR ONE LAST TIME England’s Alastair Cook during a practice session at the Oval on Wednesday. Reuters

Ishant Sharma may not be considered among the pantheon of fast bowling greats but England’s Alastair Cook, one of the finest all-time opening batsman, felt the Delhiite was one of the hardest bowlers he’s faced.

“I think I must regret getting Ishant Sharma out as my wicket, because he’s kind of got his revenge since getting me out constantly over the last couple of series,” Cook, who will be playing his final Test at The Oval on Friday, said at his farewell press conference on Wednesday.

“The ball going away from me from around the wicket I found the hardest to conquer. I never had the power or the shots to knock bowlers off their lengths. So a bowler who hangs it there and doesn’t give me the pace to work with, I found the hardest.”

Cook’s decision to call it quits has been brewing for sometime now, owing to his poor form. This year in nine matches, he’s just managed just 298 runs at an average of 18.62; the selectors choosing to keep him only because even the second opener has failed miserably. Cook conceded he was beginning to feel the heat and wanted to exit before push came to shove.

“It’s hard to put into words but there have been signs in my mind over the last six months. I told Rooty (Joe Root) before the (fourth) game (at Southampton) and then Trevor (Bayliss) during the game. In this day and age it’s very difficult to keep anything quiet. If it were 2-2 I’d have kept my mouth shut. When you do you get asked questions so it’s hard to constantly lie. I’ve been pretty good at it! But there’s certain stuff, when you’re asked questions you know you’re not being true to yourself. There might be a bit of fuss about it and if it were 2-2 I‘d have kept my mouth shut but once you’ve made a decision like that it’s always in the back of your mind and as soon as I told Rooty I felt more of a release.”

Cook said a cold one helped him keep a tab on the emotions. “I was a couple of beers in which I needed to be otherwise I would have cried more than I actually did! I managed to hold it together. At the end of the game I just said ‘This might be good news for some and sad for others but it’s time. I’ve done my bit and if picked the next game will be my last one.’ That’s kind of all I said. There was a bit of silence, Mo (Mooen Ali) said something, we all laughed and everyone got on with it. We had a nice evening in the changing room.”

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‘Was tough to face Ishant’

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