Ashes hero Cook gets ready for lambing season
England’s new cricketing hero Down Under looks forward to life down on the farm
English cricket has been needing a new hero to replace the out-of-sorts Kevin Pietersen and the retired Andrew Flintoff – and now it has one. Opening batsmen Alastair Cook notched up his third century of the Ashes series today, and his innings of 189 effectively ended any hopes Australia had of winning the fifth and final Test.
It could be Cook's final contribution to this tour as the 26-year-old Essex player has not been selected for the England one-day squad. Instead, with the Ashes safely won, Cook will return to England with his girlfriend Alice Hunt, a former glamour model.
And while his team-mates take on Australia in the shorter version of the game, Cook says he will be preparing for a different challenge at Hunt's farm near Woburn. "It's the lambing season, around mid-February, and we'll be getting ready for it soon after I'm back. I really enjoy it," he says.
Although he might not have the charisma of Pietersen or Flintoff, Cook has been hailed as one of the best batsmen in the world thanks to his astonishing performances in Australia.
During his latest mammoth innings at Sydney, Cook overhauled the records of English greats including Michael Vaughan, Geoff Boycott, Jack Hobbs, David Gower and Herbert Sutcliffe. When he was finally dismissed for 189, his total number of runs in the series stood at 766, the third highest aggregate any batsman has ever scored against Australia - and he could yet get another go.
His series average of 127.66 is also the highest ever recorded against Australia in a rubber of more than three matches. And he has spent more than 34 hours batting since the Ashes began in November.
This winter he also became the youngest player to reach 5,000 Test runs since Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian genius who scored his 51st Test century this week.
Cook's achievements have even prompted team-mate James Anderson to suggest that Cook is more talented than Pietersen, England's biggest box office draw.
Although his style of batting is not as flamboyant and he tends to shun the limelight, Cook has traded on his chiselled looks in the past. Three years ago he, Anderson and Stuart Broad stripped off for Cosmopolitan magazine, posing with nothing more than a cricket bat to hide his modesty, in aid of the Everyman male cancer campaign.