Alastair Cook’s record-strewn career reached another milestone in the Ashes Test in Perth when he became the first Englishman to play in 150 Tests.
Still only 32, Cook is the youngest player in history to reach the 150-Test mark. He is one of the towering figures of this cricketing era – and among the many records he holds is that of highest run-scorer in Edgbaston Tests.
In 14 innings in nine Tests in Birmingham, Cook has scored 856 runs at an average of 65.84.
In 14 innings in nine Tests in Birmingham, Cook has scored 856 runs at an average of 65.84. It is an impressive record, yet further inspection of his fortunes in Edgbaston Tests show them to be a serious case of feast or famine.
Of those 856 runs, 537 came in two innings. Cook has reached three figures just twice in Edgbaston Tests but on both occasions went on to build what his mentor Graham Gooch would have regarded as a serious “daddy hundred.”
Against India in 2011 he amassed 294, a 772-minute marathon which underpinned an innings-and-242-runs win. Earlier this year, against West Indies in the inaugural day-night Test in this country, he scored 243 to set up victory by an innings and 209 runs.
In those two innings combined he spent more than 22 hours at the crease. Cook has his critics, but few batsmen of the modern era have possessed the application, concentration, technique and skill to build match-shaping monuments of that magnitude. How England could do with unearthing one or two in the next couple of years.
And yet how statistics can deceive. For Cook to have more Test runs at Edgbaston than anyone else suggests all he had to do is turn up, strap on the pads, wander out and start plundering. Far from it. In his record in Birmingham, alongside those two double-tons sit two half-centuries (76 against South Africa in 2008 and 66 against Pakistan in 2016), a 45, a couple of 34s – and seven innings of 23 or fewer.
In his first Edgbaston Test in 2006, against Sri Lanka (only his fourth overall) he scored 23 and 34. Then came scores of 76, 9, 0, 17 and 4 before his 294 v India. Then it was 4, 34, 7, 45 and 66 before his 243 against West Indies earlier this year.
So for ‘Chef’, as he is known, it has been feast or famine at Edgbaston. We can only wait to see whether he will be in the side to face India next August when he would need 144 runs to become the first man to score 1,000 runs in Edgbaston Tests.