Alastair Cook: His path to the England captaincy

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook's England career has been laden with runs from the day he stepped off a plane from the West Indies in 2006 to score a century on his Test debut in India.

That composed innings demonstrated a maturity beyond his 21 years as he battled jet-lag to help England to a draw, having flown in from an A team tour to provide cover for the injured Michael Vaughan.

It was a measured display, highlighting the attributes that were to ensure that following Wednesday's shock news that Andrew Strauss had decided to retire from professional cricket, it was Cook to whom England would turn to succeed him as Test captain.

Left-hander Cook cemented his place at the top of the England order with two centuries against Pakistan later the same year as Vaughan retired and stress curtailed Marcus Trescothick's Test career.

Cook's ability to build big innings frustrated Test opponents, most notably Australia in the 2010-11 Ashes series down under.

He has not had it all his own way, though. Until his dominating performances in the most recent Ashes series, Ricky Ponting's team had taken advantage of a technical weakness he showed when playing on the front foot.

Cook's first Ashes series in 2006-07 produced just 276 runs, while the Australians again targeted him in 2009, limiting him to a best score of 95 even as England won the series.

But hundreds against the West Indies and South Africa kept the selectors happy.

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Cook excited to become Test captain

Cook made his debut as an England captain in November 2009, taking charge of the Twenty20 team for the series against South Africa.

In 2010, he captained his country on the tour of Bangladesh, as Strauss took a rest, and registered scores of 173 and 109 not out.

But his defining moment came in the toughest arena of all for an English batsman - an Ashes series in Australia.

Cook went into the tour on the back of a summer of poor scores against Bangladesh and Pakistan amid talk of his position being under threat.

He rose to the pressure to prove himself as a world-class opening batsman as Australia were demolished on home soil.

The Essex man appeared immovable at times as he racked up 766 runs at an average of 127.66, including an innings of 235 not out at Brisbane.

And in keeping with his persona as a man who likes to avoid the spotlight, Cook then returned home to his wife Alice's farm and cleaned out the pigs while others hogged the media headlines.

In one-day cricket, having overcome suggestions he lacked the shots to thrive, he returned to the team and made such an impact he was named one-day skipper in May 2011.

His Test form continued with more impressive knocks, including the 294 he managed at Edgbaston last year as England beat India 4-0 to become the top-ranked Test nation.

That status was lost with this summer's series defeat by South Africa, in which Cook scored a century in the opening match at the Oval but then, along with his team-mates, struggled for form.

But those recent failures did little to diminish his standing as the number-one choice to replace Strauss.

His 84th Test against India in Ahmedabad on 15 November will now be his first as permanent rather than caretaker captain.

It is a moment Cook, who has amassed 6,555 Test runs at an average of 47.84, has been waiting for ever since answering England's SOS call six years ago.

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