Friday Sep 07, 2018 | By: AFP
LONDON: Alastair Cook was straight into the action in his farewell Test after England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat against India at The Oval on Friday.
That meant Cook, in what was the opening batsman´s 161st and final Test appearance before his international retirement, would be involved from the first ball.
Former captain Cook, England´s all-time record run-scorer, walked out to a guard of honour from his India opponents after being presented with a commemorative cap by Andrew Strauss, his predecessor as Test skipper, before play started.
Strauss, now the ECB director, addressed the England team before handing Cook a cap numbered 161 to mark the final international match of the 33-year-old Essex left-hander´s 12-year international career.
A video montage produced by the Professional Cricketers´ Association, featuring the favourite recollections of many of the 74 players with whom Cook has shared his Test career, was shown to the batsman on Thursday.
"It´s incredibly humbling watching all those messages," said 33-year-old left-hander Cook. "Not that I am wishing this week away but once it is out of the way and the dust has settled and life has moved on I think it will be a great watch, just to appreciate how many people I have played Test cricket with and how special everything has been."
- ´Bit surreal´ -
Cook, who intends to continue playing for Essex, added: "It is a bit surreal at the moment, with all the adulation, but I am determined to go out and enjoy it -- and I am determined to go out with a win.
"It has been a privilege to pull on the England shirt. You almost forget how many people I have played with, and it has been fantastic.
"I thank everyone for sharing my journey and my time in the team but everyone will have their own story. It has been fantastic and I am a very lucky boy."
Cook scored a hundred on his Test debut, against India at Nagpur in 2006, and Virat Kohli, the current India captain, said at the toss: "We have seen too much of him sometimes.
"He has been a great player for England. What he has done as an opener has been outstanding and he will go down as one of the greatest openers to have played the game."
England had announced on Thursday they would be unchanged in personnel from the side that won by 60 runs at Southampton on Monday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in this five-match series.
But they had also confirmed that Jonny Bairstow would resume as wicket-keeper for this match after breaking a finger behind the stumps during the third Test at Trent Bridge.
India, the world´s top-ranked Test side, made two changes, with Ravindra Jadeja replacing unfit fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari given a Test debut after the tourists dropped all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
England: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Moeen Ali, Joe Root (capt), Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
India: KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wkt), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Umpires: Joel Wilson (WIS), Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
TV umpire: Bruce Oxenford (AUS)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)
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