Alastair Cook has kick-started the northern summer in serious form with Essex and the England skipper will be eyeing a place in history when his side’s three-Test series with Sri Lanka begins in Leeds on May 19.
Cook boasts 9,964 runs beside his name in Test cricket, placing him just one middling innings away from becoming the first Englishman – and 12th player overall – to reach the landmark 10,000-run milestone.
More impressively still, the left-hander looks set to become the youngest man in history to achieve the feat, eclipsing India’s ‘Little Master’, Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar’s 10,000th Test run came against Pakistan in Kolkata in March 2005, a little more than a month before his 32nd birthday. Cook meanwhile, turned 31 on Christmas Day last year, meaning if he scores the 36 runs required in the opening Test against the visiting Sri Lankans at Headingley, he would have reached the 10,000 barrier five months younger than the Indian batting icon.
It would be a phenomenal achievement for the England captain, who has emerged impressively from a horrible lean period in which he failed to score a Test hundred for almost two years, between June 2013 and May 2015.
Since his breakthrough hundred against the West Indies in Bridgetown, he added another at Lord’s against New Zealand, as well as a mammoth 263 against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last October to take his career tally to 28 – the most by an Englishman and the equal-14th most (with Michael Clarke) overall.
In the 2016 County Championship Division Two for Essex, he has made scores of 105, 35no, 1, 127no and 142 to offer every indication that his form is as strong as ever heading into home Test series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. While Cook looks likely to become the youngest man to 10,000 Test runs, he won’t be the fastest to reach the milestone in terms of innings played.
That record is currently split three ways by Tendulkar and his contemporary Brian Lara, as well as Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara, who each needed 195 innings.
Australia’s Ricky Ponting trails the trio by a single innings, at 196. Cook, with 226 innings in Test cricket already to his name, is set to slot in between Jacques Kallis (217 inns) and Allan Border (235) in ninth position on what would become a 12-man 10,000-run club. Beyond Cook, the only current players with a chance of cracking the 10,000 run mark in the next couple of years are Pakistan veteran Younis Khan – already his country’s leading run-scorer with 9,116 – and South Africa superstar AB de Villiers, who still has some work to do at 8,074 runs. Among Australia’s current crop, vice-captain has the most Test runs with 4,506, followed by skipper Steve Smith, with 3,852.