Cook completes his journey of destiny
FROM Maldon 3rd XI to England captain.
Alastair Cook yesterday completed the journey that some believe he has been destined to fulfil from a tender age.
Cook, who was brought up in Wickham Bishops, attended Bedford School, but played for Maldon Cricket Club near his Essex home during his school holidays.
He made his debut for Maldon’s adult third XI at the age of just 11 and played sporadically for the club over a seven-year period.
During a visit to Drapers Farm, where Maldon’s 1st XI were hosting Bury St Edmunds in an East Anglian Premier League match, I recall club officials spoke with real pride at their prodigy’s prospects and even introduced me to him.
Essex were already aware of Cook’s ability, and the county’s coaching guru Keith Fletcher, himself a former England captain, had visited to see Cook in action.
Word was that Cook had what it takes to go all the way – not just to become a first-class cricketer but to represent England and even beyond.
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Cook averaged 168 in his final year at Maldon, and has since been made an honorary life member.
Current first XI captain Jimmy Ainscough, who joined the club in 2002 and played alongside Cook for two or three years, said of his elevation to Test captain yesterday: “It is a great honour for him and everyone at Maldon Cricket Club will be extremely proud of him.
“There is no doubt he will go on and make a success of the job. Every challenge he has been met with he has handled absolutely brilliantly.”
Ainscough, who has been skipper for the last two years, continued: “He always had the full respect of everyone he played with. “He always offered an opinion and that was always well-received by the captain Jeff Cook. Even then he had a very good cricket brain on him.”
Wicket-keeper batsman Ainscough added: “He is a genuinely superb all-round bloke who is very level headed.
“You could tell at that time he was going to go on and he had all the attributes to succeed.
“Every challenge that has come his way he has stepped up to the mark.”