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Years of lean endeavour that forged England's most-capped Captain Cook

Cricket

Joe Root has hailed Alastair Cook for overcoming a loss in form and criticism of his captaincy as he prepares to become England’s most-capped Test player.

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Cook went though a barren run of 19 Tests without a hundred in a slump that lasted almost two years and his leadership was heavily criticised by the likes of Shane Warne in the aftermath of the Ashes whitewash in early 2014.

His struggles stretched to all formats and he was relieved of the one-day captaincy later that year in the lead-up to the World Cup and opted to solely focus on the longest format of the game.

It was a decision that’s reaped rewards as Cook ended his century drought against the West Indies last May and by the end of the year added two more, while series wins over Australia and South Africa in the last 18 months silenced his critics.

When he leads England in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong today, Cook will earn his 134th cap – moving him one clear of previous record holder Alec Stewart.

While reaching the landmark has not been without its ups and downs, Root believes the fortitude Cook displayed in the lean periods has made him a better player and captain, and is something everyone in the squad can learn from.

“It is a fabulous achievement and it’s testament to his skill level, but he’s had to overcome every obstacle possible along the way,” Root said.

“He had a couple of rough years in the middle of all that but I think that’s made him a stronger character, made him a better captain and he’s got a bit of perspective on the game now. He’s a great person to chat to and learn from.

“There was a lot of different questions asked of him about his own personal form and everything else that came with it but I thought the way he handled the whole thing was very admirable and if he can come through that then he can come through anything else.

“The young guys coming into the side and the guys who have played a lot of cricket with him shouldn’t take it for granted everything he’s achieved in the game and (we should) make sure we make the most of his knowledge and his experience while we can and while it’s readily available.”

-PA

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