Leeds: England captain Alastair Cook may be on the verge of breaking Graham Gooch's England Test runs record but he insisted today that his mentor was still in a class of his own.
England's Alastair Cook during a training session at Headingley yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Cook, following his majestic 162 in England's 124-run win in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's, now needs just 32 more runs in the second Test at Headingley, starting on Friday, to surpass Gooch's mark of 8,900 Test runs. If he does it in this match, it will mean Cook have got there in 114 Tests compared to Gooch's 118, although Gooch arguably faced more genuinely all-time great bowlers throughout his career.
"It would be a lovely moment. I wouldn't put myself anywhere near in his class but it would be a great moment," Cook told reporters at Headingley on Thursday regarding the prospect of overtaking Gooch's mark. "However nice it would be if I do score 30, 31 32 or whatever it is to pass the great man that won't be enough for
"If I'm lucky enough to get that it will be a moment I'll remember but if I am 30 not out it's important in a game situation I go on and get a big score," added the left-handed Cook, like the right-handed Gooch an Essex and England opening batsman. Cook first worked with Gooch as a teenager and was in no doubt of his debt to the former England captain.
"I wouldn't be here, or anywhere near here, without Goochie's help, so it will be slightly strange if I do go past his record because without his hard work and dedication to me and my game, I wouldn't have scored half the runs I would have done. "It's a bit of a strange one. But there will only ever be one Graham Gooch. He's England greatest-ever batsman."
It fell to Cook to tell Gooch that he had been sacked as England batting coach in May last year. But Cook himself said he had eventually gone back to his original mentor for advice. "We worked together since I started on the Essex staff at 18 and then made that decision that I'll work on different areas and work with different coaches over a period," said the 30-year-old Cook, whose 27 Test hundreds are an England record.
"While it was really refreshing to work with different guys, I think its really important there's one guy you go back to because he knows your game inside out." Meanwhile New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum paid tribute to Cook by saying: "He's got a strong character. "He's now in that position where he is the leader of the England team and the guys have responded to him. His statistics throughout his career are superb."
Since England's victory at Lord's, Australian Trevor Bayliss has been confirmed as their new permanent coach. Bayliss will be in charge in time for the Ashes, starting in Cardiff in July, with Paul Farbrace -- who worked under the Australian when they were with Sri Lanka -- reverting to assistant coach. "Trevor's experience in all forms of the game, he's a successful coach, everywhere he's gone he's been successful, his one-day record is very good as well so it will be interesting to hear his ideas on that side," said Cook of the former Kolkata Knight Riders and New South Wales boss.
"It's obviously for England a great coup to have him in terms of his experience, certainly of Australian players but just of the world game as well." McCullum, who played under Bayliss at KKR, added: "Trevor is a good man.I'm sure he'll do a really good job for England. "He's obviously Australian, but I don't think that matters in this day and age. "You can coach different countries, it's more about the skill-set you bring and the personality you bring rather than the nationality you bring."