Alastair Cook retires: 11 things you didn't know about the former England captain

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England’s record run scorer and former captain Alastair Cook has announced he will retire from international cricket following the current Test series against India.

His stats and landmarks are well known, and will be recounted time and again over the next few weeks, but here are 11 facts you may not know about the opener…

Royal performer

In his early years Cook was a more gifted chorister than he was a cricketer as his family loved music more than they did sport. He spent five years at St Paul's Cathedral school singing treble in the cathedral choir. His voice featured on several CD releases, and he also sang with some famous names in live performances - including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - and performed for the Queen.

Starting small

Cook and his two brothers would play cricket in the back garden on a pitch 11 yards long - half the proper length - in kit borrowed from their father, who batted for the village team.

Bright start

He was just 18 when he made his first-class debut for Essex and he made an unbeaten 69 in the second innings, batting in partnership with former England coach Andy Flower.

Test triumph

Cook made history with a century on his Test debut against India in March 2006, after being called up as an emergency replacement when he had been in the West Indies on a tour with the ECB National Academy. His ton made him the 16th Englishman to score a Test century debut.

Musical maestro

Cook is a keen musician. By the age of eight, he was learning the clarinet and at Bedford School, where he was granted a scholarship, he also learned to play piano and saxophone.

Showing off at school

When Cook was just 14, the MCC arrived to play his school Bedford's first XI. The guests were a man short, so he stood in for them and not only made up the numbers but ended up contributing a century as well. Cook went on to break all batting records at Bedford, making 19 centuries in total.

You’ve seen him bat…

He has a Test bowling average of seven. The Trent Bridge Test against India in 2014 was played on such a flat, lifeless pitch that Cook himself relieved his weary attack at the end of day five and took the ball himself. He proceeded to indulge some comedy run-ups, including an impression of Bob Willis, before unexpectedly having Ishant Sharma caught down the leg-side by Matt Prior. Even more surprisingly, he took three wickets in an under-19 Test series against South Africa.


There are two other famous namesakes for Alastair Cook - although the spelling for both differs. Alistair Cooke was a British journalist known for the former weekly radio series Letter from America, while Alistair Cooke, Baron Lexden is a British historian and a member of the House of Lord's.

Anything but snakes

Cook suffers from ophidiophobia. He might not flinch at the prospect of facing 90mph bouncers from the world's best fast bowlers, but he once confessed that he was scared of snakes - not ideal for a man whose job takes him to a number of countries where they are rife. "I have a recurring dream in which I'm getting eaten by them," he told the Evening Standard in 2011.

Special day

He was born on Christmas Day. Cook arrived in the world on December 25, 1984. Two other notable Ashes winners of recent vintage share the birthday - Marcus Trescothick (1975) and Simon Jones (1978).


Aged 16, Cook met Alice Hunt, the daughter of a local farmer - and the childhood sweethearts tied the knot on 31 December 2011, driving away from their wedding in a John Deere tractor.

Additional reporting by the Press Association