The schoolboy who honed his cricketing skills on the square in Bedford rewrote the sport’s history books this week.
Alastair Cook clipped a delivery to the boundary for England against Sri Lanka on Monday to pass a total of 10,000 Test runs.
The former Bedford School student becomes the first England player in the history of the game to reach the milestone, and the youngest of the 12 legends who had achieved it so far.
A delighted Cook told Test Match Special afterwards: “It’s a very special moment for me. You forget about all the hard times you have as a cricketer.
“It’s certainly driven me personally. To score 10,000 runs was one of those goals.
“It’s those seven o’clock nets with Goochy (his mentor Graham Gooch), the hard yards away from today that you put in to get here.”
Alastair arrived at Bedford School as a music scholar in 1998 but his cricketing prowess soon became apparent.
During Cook’s five years at Bedford School he scored a total of 4,396 runs at an average of 87 including two double centuries. In his final year he notched up 1,287 runs at an average of 160.
Cook surpassed Gooch’s total of 8,900 Test runs at Headingley last May to become England’s leading run-scorer.
England coach Trevor Bayliss believed he had every opportunity of going on to pass the world record number of 15,921 Test runs, held by Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar.
He said: “He is right up there with any of the best international players. His powers of concentration are immense.
“He is not the biggest stroke-player of all time. He knows his game very well, he is very patient and he sticks to his game. To be able to do that over the period of time he has played and score as many runs as he has is a fantastic effort.”
Cook reached the milestone in his 128th Test, and he has score d 28 Test hundreds, also an England record. He made a century on his Test debut against India in 2006. He was ruled out of the next match because of illness. but has not missed a Test since.
He was appointed captain in 2012 andfamously led England to Ashes series wins over Australia in 2013 and 2015.
England batting legend Geoffrey Boycott said: “Cook has been a rock up front. His assets are he’s got patience, determination, concentration. He’s a bloody-minded, tough so-and-so.
“He’s clever enough to know you can’t go flashing the ball all over the park like a middle-order player to an old ball.”
The 11 other batsmen to have reached 10,000 are Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, Sunil Gavaskar, Jacques Kallis, Allan Border, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Steve Waugh.
Cook has returned to the De Parys Avenue school several times since completing his A-levels in 2003.
In 2008 he donned the whites and played for an old boys XI against a Bedford School XI.
And in April 2012 he returned to officially reopen the school’s refurbished cricket pavilion, renamed the Langham Pavilion after major benefactors John and Betty Langham.
He said that day: “It’s a great pleasure to be here today and see so many familiar faces again.
“Looking at this fantastic new facility, I hope the next generation of Bedford School players will have as much fun as I did during my time here - and above all enjoy sitting in the changing room working out how to win a game of cricket.”