Having played against him in many Ashes encounters, former Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson has termed recently retired England great Alastair Cook as a "great competitor" and went on to hail the left-hand opener as a champion player for his country.
Cook, who left the game with two amazing knocks of 71 and 147 against India at The Oval after having amassed 12,472 runs at 46.95 across 161 Tests overall, faced Johnson in 19 Ashes games at the highest level.
Cook played 35 Tests against the arch-rivals from down under and scored 2,493 runs at 40.20 but it was his great away Ashes in 2010-11 that will forever be part of cricket's rich heritage. Cook's marathon knocks of 235* in Brisbane and 189 in Sydney saw him dominate his way through to 766 runs at 127.66 across five Test matches.
But, after having gone through the pain of watching Cook bat all day in that series, Johnson cameback with the threat of pace and bounce, that wasn't quite seen in the modern day game before, in 2013-14. He simply ran through the defense of Cook on many occasions.
Although they didn't quite played against each other at their best, It can still be regarded as one of Ashes' fierce rivalries.
Talking to ICC about Cook and his tussles against him, Johnson said, "I thought he was going to retire a few years ago, he’s not at his best, But he’s just shown what a class act he is. Scores a hundred on his debut, scores a hundred to finish off his career."
Further paying a tribute to Cook, Johnson added, "He’s still only young, but he’s played a lot of (Test) cricket, some 160-odd games, I think. Cooky, he’s been a champion. I’ve always had the utmost respect for him as a player and a person. Off the field, he’s just a genuinely nice guy. Also, on the field, always a tough competitor. A typical Test cricketer,"
Johnson, specifically on what made Cook such a great force feels, "He knew there were periods he had to block and let go, and really dig deep. Moments when he had to attack, and he did that on his own terms, played the game the way he wanted to play it and never let anyone tell him otherwise." he reiterated, "Didn’t listen to the critics and just enjoyed himself,"
In conclusion, on a funny note, Johnson said, "He(Cook) never really sweated as well, so that was quite annoying at times, when you’re out there and you’re bowling to him 30-plus overs and he’s just pasting you all over the place." and then wished him all good things going forward with, "Yeah, he was a great competitor and I wish him all the best in the future."