Indian Captain Virat Kohli paid a fitting tribute to Alastair Cook, who retired from the game at the end of The Oval Test, by saying that England's former opening batsman is not only a great man but also an outstanding ambassador for the sport.
Cook, having announced his retirement, followed his very assured 71 in the first innings with one of his great hundreds in the second. Even in his last match Cook survived and defied the bowlers, before playing with the kind of freedom that was very seldom seen with his batting. His knock of 147 in his very last innings and then the diving smile and teary eyes, it was one of the most beautiful sporting moments that one can ever see.
“He’s a great example for everyone to love Test cricket so much, and has so much determination and passion to play for the country. He’s been a great ambassador for the game,” said Virat Kohli in the post-match press conference in London, “I certainly have a lot of respect for him because he’s one guy who has not gone out of line ever. Doesn’t say a word to anyone in a negative manner, just carries on with his work and he’s very sure about his work as well. I wish him well.”
“I asked him on the field are you having second thoughts now that you have got 140 and he said ‘Not at all’. He felt relieved more than anything else. You could see he was enjoying his batting all over again, I wish him well for whatever he decides to do now and congratulate him on an amazing career as an opener playing in these conditions." he added.
Virat further paid a tribute and gave an example of his admiration for Cook by saying, “We understand how difficult batting can be, even if you play regularly (here), it still can be tough. But the fact that he scored so many runs all over the world shows the determination he’s always had to be able to play 160 Test matches and have the longest run of not missing a Test.”
Reflecting on his team's performance across the five-match Test series and areas of improvement from now on, Virat said, “The progress has been there, definitely. We need to recognise when the situation is in our favour and how to solidify that situation even further. We have to make sure that the opposition cannot get back in to the game,” and added, “More often than not, we have given the advantage to the opposition rather than them brilliantly turning around a situation,”
Praising England's man of the series Sam Curran for his brilliant and very crucial all-round contribution to his side, the Indian Captain felt, “I know Sam (Curran) has been outstanding in this series but apart from that particular batting slot, it has not been up to brilliant batting always. It has been up to us not being able to apply that pressure for long enough as well,”
“We need to start series well. We can’t warm-up in to a series because the first Test is always crucial, and we need to make sure we are in the right frame of mind to be able to do all the things right to strike first,” he concluded.
(Inputs from PTI)