Cook breaks England Test runs record


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Alastair Cook has overtaken his mentor and coach Graham Gooch to become the highest run-scorer for England in Test cricket.

Cook required 31 runs to draw equal with Gooch's record of 8,900 runs and, with a restrained drive to the cover boundary off Tim Southee, he passed the man who he has coached him, first with Essex and then with England, since he was 18 years old.

Before the Headingley Test, he insisted that by his reckoning Gooch remained unsurpassed as the finest England Test batsman in history.

Highlights of Cook's career include scoring a century on debut (in Nagpur in 2006), plundering 766 runs in seven innings in the 2010-11 Ashes series, hitting three centuries in successive Tests to help England to a series victory in India in 2012 and becoming the second-youngest man - after Sachin Tendulkar - to make 5,000 Test runs.

While he endured a grim run of form throughout much of 2013 and 2014, Cook has also made more Test centuries - 27 - than any England player and averages a fraction under 47. Doubts about his prowess as a tactical captain may remain, but he is a respected leader and his place among the greats of England batsmen is assured.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Cook's new record is his relative youth. Gooch, also an Essex and England opening batsman, was 41 by the time he finished playing Test cricket; Cook is just 30 and could have some of the best years of his career ahead of him.

Cook's record - achieved in the same match in which James Anderson became the first England bowler to claim 400 Test wickets - is partially a reflection of the packed international schedule in the modern era which sees far more Test matches staged.

He has already played 114 matches in a nine-year Test career that started in Nagpur in 2006, while Gooch managed 118 in a career that was interrupted by a three-year ban for going on a rebel tour to South Africa in the early 1980s.

Twelve men from other nations have scored more Test runs than Cook. But few of them are still playing and, given Cook's age and continued fitness, he could reach the top of the list by the end of his career.