Alastair Cook has revealed how close he came to retiring during England’s Ashes defeat in Australia.
The former captain admits he was suffering a crisis of confidence during the tour, after going ten innings without passing 50 following his 243 against West Indies in the summer.
A number of pundits questioned Cook’s place in the side, but he responded with a superb double-century in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
The innings did not lead to a victory but Cook admits it was a huge moment in his career as it reminded him – and the selectors – that he still ‘had it’.
‘To bat as badly as I did for two months, and then for 10 hours bat as well as I’ve ever done, is quite strange,’ Cook said ahead of England’s first Test against New Zealand.
‘It shows I have got it. To be able to bat like that, you’ve got to be doing the right stuff mentally and still be on it.
‘I batted like I did when it was as hard as it could be mentally – because you’re thinking: “If I get another couple of low scores, things are really going to get tough for me”.
‘To keep going like that and then deliver shows you have something.’
In his most recent innings – the final Ashes Test at the SCG – Cook passed 12,000 Test runs, a feat accomplished by just five other players in the history of the game.
But 2017 had been a difficult year for Cook, who handed over the captaincy to Joe Root and whose form had come and gone against South Africa, West Indies and Australia.
‘There were moments when it was tough,’ Cook, who will play his 153rd Test against New Zealand in Wellington this week, admitted.
‘You question yourself – “am I still good enough to play at the real elite level?” Not that the hunger has run out, but is it all worth it?
‘It is an easy story to write when a slightly older player isn’t scoring runs – “is he going to give up? Is he thinking about it?”
‘When you keep piling the effort in and you’re not doing very well for two months in a big series, you start doubting yourself.’