Alastair Cook is one of the favourite names for the various communities of Test cricket lovers. Cook is extremely popular among the avid Test cricket followers from the subcontinent, Caribbean islands, Australasia and of course the Great Britain. Chef, as he is popularly known by his fans, has been instrumental in helping English cricket getting connected to all kinds of fans.
Fans, who had grown up on a diet of watching the game in 60s & 70s when the only format which was played at international level was Test cricket, enjoyed this old school cricketer. These old fans saw in Cook an orthodox 70s' Test opener who after seeing off the new ball would carry on to play a marathon innings.
Cookie is looked upon by those youngsters who could only play the longer formats who also didn’t have that big hitting ability. He showed kids that even by not bagging a lucrative IPL contract or a World Cup berth, one can still earn good money and become a legend of the game.
Cook’s performance in the 2010/11 away Ashes is very highly rated especially by the English and the Australian media. However, he is remembered by most cricket lovers for his heroics as a batsman and a captain during England's tour of India in 2012. That is by far the pinnacle of all his performances as at that time, England was going through a lean patch as they had just lost the series against South Africa at home and suffered a big setback when their captain Andrew Strauss decided to retire due to some controversial events. In this atmosphere of turmoil, the English team led by a new captain, Cook, came to India where they were not expected to stand up against the Indian spinners especially on those turning tracks. But even after losing the first Test, Cook led from the front as he scored three tons on the tour and was praised for his selection of bringing Monty Panesar into the mix. The left-handed opener’s captaincy helped England in playing as a collective unit which ultimately conjured a 2-1 series victory for the visitors.
Still, one just wishes that a little bit of Test cricket had been on free-to-air television then the Oval Test would have had a larger impact across the English islands because in 2005, the ECB gave their broadcasting rights to Sky Sports which eventually meant that the UK audience had to pay in order to watch any kind of cricket. With the kind of reception that Cook got in his final Test, it is inevitable that many kids will be inspired to become a Test cricketer.
With Cook retiring, the world cricket has also lost an ambassador for Test cricket and the ICC desperately needs to find his replacement soon.