By Brian Halford
Ian Bell believes Alastair Cook has delivered an “outstanding career from an outstanding bloke” - and Bell is not in the least surprised that his long-time England team-mate signed off with a century against India.
Warwickshire batsman Bell played the vast majority of his 118 Test matches alongside Cook - and reflects on that as a “privilege” as the Essex opener’s England career comes to a close.
“To score a hundred in his last Test innings just sums up what he is as a cricketer and a person and what he has given to the country and the team,” Bell said.
“We go back a long way together, right the way back to playing in the England A team, and it’s been a privilege to play a large part of my career alongside him.
“A lot of people have got ability but it is the mental side of the game that really separates the very top players from the rest. For me as a middle-order player, to know that Cookie was going out there to open, gave me a lot of confidence because I knew that mentally and technically he was always up for the fight and if he got in he was going to score big runs.
“He has been a fantastic performer and it will probably be a few years before we look back and realise just how good he has been. It’s been an outstanding career from an outstanding bloke and he will be a big miss for England.”
While Cook’s batting skills will be sorely missed by the national team, no less so will be his character, insists Bell.
“Cookie is such a balanced bloke,” he said. “As a batsman there are a lot of lows among the highs. You have to take all the low scores and good deliveries and the bad shots and bad decisions and he has the balance pretty much spot on.
“I’ve been alongside him when we have won the Ashes and when we have lost 5-0 and, whatever the situation, he is always the kind of guy you want alongside you in the trenches. When I was going through tough times he was always there for me and hopefully vice versa.
“I’m sure there are a lot of runs left ahead of him for Essex. When I was came out of international cricket I felt I was far from finished and I think it will be the same with Cookie. He’s still got a real love for the game and now I would imagine he will have a nice winter at home and mental breather and then be hungry to give back to Essex over the next few years.”