Cook is masterchef

SP

When he slapped Ishant Sharma to the third man fence to go to 92, Cook's tally of Test runs had gone from 6,999 to 7003. At 27 years and 347 days, he was the youngest ever batsman to reach that milestone. Sachin Tendulkar was 28 years and 193 days old when he got there at Bloemfontein in 2001, with his 26th Test hundred. It is within the realms of possibility that Cook could one day go past his record totals for runs and centuries in Test cricket.

Rare Talent

Cook's precocious climb to 7,000 runs is a product of rare talent, of course, but also of the frequency with which England play Test matches these days. It has taken Cook just six years and 279 days to play the 86 Tests he needed to get to 7,000. Sachin Tendulkar had taken only 85 Tests, but they had been spread over 11 years and 353 days. It is instructive that the only other cricketer apart from Cook to get to 7,000 in less than eight years is Pietersen.

All that says, of course, is that Cook is young enough, and that England play Test cricket frequently enough, for him to have a tilt at Tendulkar's twin peaks. Getting there, of course, will require him to score 8591 more runs — only one Englishman, Gooch, has scored that many runs over an entire career — and 28 more hundreds.

Cook, moreover, will need to stay fit and extraordinarily consistent over a long period of time. Assuming that he will need to get to 16,000 runs (Tendulkar currently has 15,638) while scoring at his current runs-per-Test rate, Cook will need to play a further 111 Test matches.

England's last two long-term Test skippers, Strauss and Michael Vaughan, also enjoyed purple patches like the one Cook is currently going through. But their form dipped considerably towards the end of their captaincy tenures. Cook, astoundingly, has five centuries in five Tests as captain. But he too, in due course, will have to contend with age and the stresses of body and mind.

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