Mentor Graham Gooch pays glowing tribute to Alastair Cook following retirement decision

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Cook is set to retire after England's final Test against India at the Oval.

Graham Gooch has paid tribute to Alastair Cook as “the rock of England‘s batting” and a “great person as well as a great cricketer”.

Cook, who has announced his impending international retirement after this week’s Oval Test, was Gooch’s protege who went on to far surpass even his revered mentor’s record run-making achievements.

Four-time Ashes-winner Cook passed Gooch’s historical high of 8,900 Test runs just before regaining the urn as England captain four years ago, on the way to the 12,000-plus he has racked up in his 12-year, 160-match career.

For almost the duration, since Cook first moved on to the playing staff at their county Essex, Gooch has been a guiding force in his fellow opener’s unmatched career.

Gooch said: “Alastair has been the rock of England’s batting for the last 12 years since he made his debut – and while we are all sad to see him retire, we must rejoice in what he has done for our country.

“He is a genuine legend of English cricket.

“He is a legend not only because of his performances, but because of his attitude, his sacrifices, the way he has carried himself and the example he has set.

“Alastair is a perfect role model and is the image of the game we want to project. He is a great ambassador for his sport; he is a great person as well as a great cricketer.”

Gooch was speaking in his role as Professional Cricketers’ Association president.

Gooch has played a vital role in shaping Cook's career.

Gooch has played a vital role in shaping Cook’s career.

In the tribute statement, the 65-year-old added: “His record is unsurpassed in terms of runs and the commitment he has showed for every team he has played for, and has been a beacon for our sport as a person and as a cricketer.

“He has been his own man all the way through.

“He has his own views and he knows what he wants to achieve and what he wants to get – and he has pursued that all the way through his career.”

Gooch was impressed by Cook from the outset.

He said: “It was evident from the very first time I met him when he came to Essex that he was a smart lad – and he knew how he could play, he knew how he could manage his game, even at a young age.

“Throughout his career, he has developed his game to improve, and the results are there for all to see.

Cook has had his share of struggles over the past two years or so.

Cook has had his share of struggles over the past two years or so.

“To achieve what he has in playing 160 Test Matches, scoring over 12,000 runs and 32 centuries is an incredibly special achievement from a special person.

“It all stems from being strong of mind, being committed to hard work on his game and focusing on what’s in front of him.

“He has accepted every challenge and has achieved everything he wanted to achieve – so we have to be sad that he will no longer be representing our country, but we must rejoice in the fact he has been a rock for us for 12 years.”

Gooch points out that graft, as well as ability, is necessary to succeed at the highest level.

He said: “To be a successful sportsman it is not just about the skills or talent – it is about hard work, commitment and desire.

“All of those parts complete the make-up of you as a person and help you be successful, and he has been determined … stubborn sometimes but always somebody you can depend on, and always the first name on the team sheet.”

Cook has indicated he intends to play on for his county next summer, and Gooch said: “For Essex it is a dream come true.

“Knowing Alastair like I do, he will give the same commitment as he did for England.

“He has decided he has run his race at international level, and I can understand that as he has done it for 12 years.”

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Virat Kohli says India must learn how to cross the finish line

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Kohli's men were unable to salvage the series against England.

Virat Kohli lauded the intensity shown by his men in the fourth Test against England at Southampton but the India skipper believes it is imperative for his side to learn the art of finishing the job.

Chasing 245 to win, India fell to a 60-run defeat at the Ageas Bowl as England clinched the five-match series 3-1 with a match to spare. It was once again a case of so near, and yet so far for the visitors who suffered a narrow 1-2 defeat to South Africa on their previous overseas tour.

Speaking after the Southampton defeat, Kohli stressed on the importance of capitalising on advantageous positions such as the first innings where India were well placed to take a commanding lead.

“We can look at the scoreboard and say we were only 30 or 50 runs away, but we have to recognise that when we are in the midst of a situation, and not later. We know that we have played good cricket but we cannot say again and again ourselves that we have competed,” Kohli said.

“When you come so close, there is an art of crossing the line as well, which we will have to learn. We have the ability, which is why we are getting close to a result. But when a pressure situation comes, how we react to it, is something we have to work on a bit,” he added.

India's batting collapsed after Kohli's dismissal in the second innings.

India’s batting collapsed after Kohli’s dismissal in the second innings.

It was once again a poor start to the series which proved costly for Kohli’s men. In South Africa, they went down 0-2 before bouncing back with a win in the final Test and in England, they suffered losses at Edgbaston and Lord’s before notching up a win at Trent Bridge.

The India skipper believes his side need to start overseas series much better if they are to have a better chance of wins.

“Look we’ve spoken about the fact that even during the match when we’re in a driving position, we should be able to capitalise on it and not let the opposition come in, and fight back again and again. We can take a leaf out of that. Nottingham we did that, for three days we were relentless and on top,” the 29-year-old explained.

“So we need to think about how to start a series like that as well. As a group, we need to be more relentless when we start a series and a bit more expressive and fearless at the beginning of a series,” he added.

The two sides will lock horns now in the fifth and final Test which gets underway at The Oval on September 7.

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England v India Test series in numbers as Virat Kohli leads run-getters

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Virat Kohli has outshone Joe Root in the batting department.

England clinched Test series victory over India at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday and now hold an unassailable 3-1 lead heading into the fifth and final match at the Oval starting on Friday (September 7).

After a Test match for the ages in Southampton, we look back at some of the key numbers so far in the series.

As ever, get in touch with us on Twitter and our Cricket Facebook page.

Most runs in the series – Virat Kohli

Matches – 4
Innings – 8
Runs – 544
Average – 68
Balls Faced – 954
Centuries – 2
Fifties – 3
Top Score – 149

India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates reaching his fifty during play on the fourth day of the fourth Test cricket match between England and India at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, southwest England on September 2, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

Head and shoulders above the rest: Virat Kohli.

Jos Buttler (260), Sam Curran (251), Cheteshwar Pujara (241) and Ajinkya Rahane (220) make up the top five.

Most wickets in the series – James Anderson

Matches – 4
Innings – 8
Wickets – 19
Average – 17.68
Economy – 2.39
Overs Bowled – 140.1
Maidens – 38
Runs conceded – 336
Best – 5-20

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 02: England bowler James Anderson celebrates after having India batsman Shikhar Dhawan caught during the 4th Specsavers Test Match between England and India at The Ageas Bowl on September 2, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Integral again: James Anderson.

Indian paceman Ishant Sharma (15) is second while Stuart Broad and Mohammed Shami are tied on 14, with Jasprit Bumrah the fifth-most productive bowler on 11 scalps.

Anderson is now just four wickets shy of levelling Australian great Glenn McGrath’s haul of 563 scalps.

Most catches – KL Rahul and Alastair Cook (tied with 11 each)

The Indian opener’s catches have come during just seven India innings, as opposed to Cook’s eight occasions in the field. KL Rahul snaffled a series-high four during the tourists’ emphatic third Test win at Trent Bridge.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: England batsman Alastair Cook looks behind after edging the ball to Rahul off the bowling of Ishant Sharma for 17 runs during day four of the 3rd Specsavers Test Match between England and India at Trent Bridge on August 21, 2018 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

KL Rahul has been a safe pair of hands in the slip cordon for India.

Highest Partnership in the Series Sixth-wicket stand of 189 between Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes at Lord’s.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Chris Woakes of England celebrates reaching his century with teammate Jonathan Bairstow during day three of the 2nd Specsavers Test between England and India at Lord's Cricket Ground on August 11, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Epic stand: Chris Woakes and Bairstow piled on the runs at the Home of Cricket.

Highest Team Total – England: 396-7d, off 88.1 overs in second innings of second match at Lord’s.

Chris Woakes celebrates after scoring his maiden Test hundred at Lord's

All-rounder Chris Woakes (137*) celebrates after scoring his maiden Test hundred.

Most fours – Virat Kohli (61)

Kohli registered his 23rd Test ton on Monday.

Simply sublime: Virat Kohli.

Most sixes – Sam Curran (4, from just five innings)

Curran scored a superb 78

Sam Curran hasn’t been afraid to smash the ball around.

Highest strike-rate in an innings – Jos Buttler 121.87 (39 off 32 balls, including three 4s and two 6s)

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: England batsman Jos Buttler drives a ball to the boundary watched by wicketkeeper Pant during day four of the 3rd Specsavers Test Match between England and India at Trent Bridge on August 21, 2018 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Jos Buttler was among the runs in both innings in Nottingham.

Highest Test aggregate of runs  Trent Bridge (1,159 runs scored between the sides).

India will not want to lose the momentum from their Trent Bride win.

India were the dominant side in the third Test.

Total amount of wickets to have fallen – 144: 40 at Birmingham; 27 at Lord’s; 37 at Nottingham and 40 during the Southampton Test.

Most extras conceded in an innings – 34, forming England’s first innings total of 246 at Southampton (B: 23; lb; 9, nb: 2).

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01: India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant in action during day three of the 4th Specsavers Test between England and India at The Ageas Bowl on September 1, 2018 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Rishabh Pant faced tough conditions to keep to at the Ageas Bowl.

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