Captain Cook’s endeavour conquered Australia

SJA member ERIC BROWN has answered our call for suggestions on who we should be supporting for the Sportsman of the Year. Well batted!

Your suggested list of candidates for the SJA’s Sports Awards failed to include Alastair Cook, the England cricket captain. And after an Ashes-winning summer, too.

Given the expectations going into the summer’s Tests, it seems to me that Cook’s well-worth our votes.

Cook has been labelled an uninspiring captain in the past, not least by a certain former Australian leg-spinner, but his imaginative approach helped England land the urn. Besides anyone who stuffs the Aussies deserves some recognition.

A career high: Alastair Cook collects the Ashes at the end of a terrific Test series
A career high: Alastair Cook collects the Ashes at the end of a terrific Test series

England had returned from their winter tour and one-day World Cup in, it’s fair to say, a bit of disarray, with some loud voices from the boundary rope calling for all kinds of changes. Before the series with Australia began, many critics decided England could not win a single Test.

But Cook turned that theory around, even despite being without leading bowler James Anderson for two Tests.

The other factor to consider when voting for him as the Sportsman of the Year is Cook’s personal form with the bat, which has seen him move alongside some of the all-time greats.

Cook scored his 28th Test century in the first Test against Pakistan in October. By doing so he completed a run of centuries in each of the nine countries he has batted in (10 if you count Wales).

With that century, Cook equalled Michael Clarke’s Test mark and is now only one behind Don Bradman. His eighth Test hundred in Asia equalled the record for non-Asians held by Jacques Kallis. He overtook Kallis to become the leading non-Asian runscorer in Asia with 2,065 runs during the first Test, and he’s added to that since in Dubai.

Cook has now scored 1,000 Test runs in a calendar year four times, equalling Kevin Pietersen’s England record. He is Test cricket’s leading scorer in 2015, and he has also exceeed Pietersen’s record of 32 hundreds in all forms of cricket.

Record-breaker: Cook's form with the bat has marked him as one of England's all-time greats
Record-breaker: Cook’s form with the bat has marked him as one of England’s all-time greats

During his innings of 263 in the UAE in that first Test against Pakistan, Cook batted 836 minutes – the third longest Test innings in history.

It was England’s highest score in Asia, beating Mike Gatting’s 207 v India in 1984-1985.

After a marathon innings that lasted longer than the entire fourth Ashes Test in the summer, Cook thus became the only player to appear twice in the top 10 individual innings for England.

His value to England as a batsman is underlined by the manner in which he has had seven different partners during his England Test career. He is some act to match.

So it’s got to be Cook for me.

  • Who do you think deserves SJA members’ votes for Sportsman, Sportswoman or Team of the Year? Send your pitch – no more than 400 words – to, with “SJA Sports Awards” in the subject field, and we may publish it here
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Tue Dec 1: Young sports journalists’ networking drinks – Details to be announced

Thu Dec 17: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery


Mon Feb 22: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards dinner, sponsored by BT Sport