England’s highest-ever run-getter in Tests Alastair Cook wrapped up his career in style by hitting 147 in his final game at the Oval against India. Incidentally, he had also hit a hundred on debut against the same opposition in Nagpur in 2006. In an illustrious career spanning over 12 years, the left-handed batsman hit 12,472 runs in 161 Tests. He also played 92 ODIs scoring 3,204 runs and four T20Is scoring 61 runs.
At only 33 years and 259 days, Cook had the time to scale the Everest of runs and his retirement would definitely give relief to many Indian fans since he had posed a real threat to Mount Tendulkar which many had thought was insurmountable.
We may take this opportunity to compare the two batsmen’s careers till the point Cook played, i.e., 12 years and 161 Tests innings to understand whether the English batsman was any better than the Master Blaster when he retired and could go on and break his record had he played a few more years.
Tendulkar scored 15,921 runs in 200 Tests and 329 innings which means he leads Cook by 3,449 runs in 39 Tests and 38 more innings. But what were his statistics when he played the same number of Tests that Cook has played? Also, how do the two stand when the numbers are broken down further?
After 161 Tests, Tendulkar led Cook by 445 runs
At the end of his 161st Test which he played in 2009, Tendulkar had scored 12,917 runs in 264 innings. He slammed 43 centuries at that point of time besides 53 fifties. Cook, as stated earlier, has 12,472 runs in 161 Tests and 291 innings. He has 33 centuries to his credit besides 57 fifties.
Tendulkar led Cook by 445 runs and scored 10 centuries more. However, Tendulkar was 35 when he played his 161st, two years older than Cook when the latter played that many Tests and that could have made a difference in Cook’s favour he had continued for another few years, provided he had more left in his tank.
The last 38 Tests: Tendulkar led Cook again
This is more of a hypothesis since the English opener will not play in reality those last 38-39 Tests to match the legendary Indian batsman’s landmark of 200 Tests. Tendulkar’s last 38 Tests yielded a total of 2,911 runs in 64 innings at an average of 50 which is 3.78 points down from his career average of 53.78 and he could manage another eight centuries and 14 fifties in his phase.
If we see Cook’s last 38 games, he scored 2,685 runs in 71 innings at an average of 40.07, 5.28 points less than his overall average of 45.25. He managed five centuries and 11 fifties in this phase. While Tendulkar’s highest score in this phase is 214, Cook’s highest score is 244 not out.
First five years: Cook outsmarts Tendulkar
Cook has a phenomenal record of scoring 12,000-plus runs in 12 years. It means he started scoring really fast after hitting a hundred on debut. How did Tendulkar do in comparison? Here is a look: Cook scored 4,941 runs in 64 Tests and 114 innings in his first five years (2006-2010) at an average of 46.17 (0.82 better than his overall average of 45.35). He hit 15 centuries and 24 half centuries during this phase with the highest score being 235 not out.
Tendulkar is a distant second in his first five years’ (1989-1993) performance, scoring 1,725 runs in 28 Tests and 40 innings at an average of six centuries and nine fifties. He averaged 47.91 in this time which is 5.67 points lesser than his overall average of 53.78.
Second five years: Tendulkar has a far better average
In the second five years of their respective careers, Tendulkar outdoes Cook with a far better average. He scored 3,028 runs in 35 Tests and 56 innings between 1994 and 1998 at an average of 59.37, which is 5.59 points more than his career average. He hit 11 hundreds and 10 fifties in this period.
Cook, in the second five years of his career, scored 4,846 runs in 59 matches and 106 innings at an average of 47.98 which is 2.63 points more than his career average. He scored 13 centuries and 22 fifties in this phase.
Last three years: Cook has done much better than Tendulkar
Alastair Cook, however, has the last laugh when it comes it comparison between him and Tendulkar in their last three years. While Cook had a fairly decent run between 2016 and 2018 when he scored 2,685 runs in 38 Tests and 71 innings at an average of 40.07, scoring five centuries and11 fifties, Tendulkar could score only 1,389 runs in 24 Tests and 41 innings at an average of 35.61 with just one hundred and nine fifties. Cook had two man of the match awards in his last three years while Tendulkar had none.
Test career after 12 years: Cook played more, scored more but Tendulkar had a better average
If we see the career of these two batsmen from only the perspective of a timeline, it is Cook who is an outright winner. Cook played 161 Tests in his 12-year career which means more than 13 Tests a year on an average. He scored 12,472 runs in this time at an average of 45.35 and hit 33 centuries and 57 fifties. Cook’s highest score remained 294.
Tendulkar, after completing the 12th year of his international career (1989-2000), was only 27 and had played only 79 Tests (average of 6.58 Tests a year) at that point of time. He scored 6,416 runs though at a far superior average of 57.28 and with 24 hundreds and as many fifties. Tendulkar’s highest score in Tests after 12 years was 217. But Tendulkar played some brilliant cricket in the next 13 years (2001-2013), scoring 9,505 runs in 121 matches and 204 innings at an average of 51.65. He scored 27 hundreds and 44 fifties in this period.
India nevertheless played more ODIs than Tests compared to England and hence Tendulkar’s quantity proved to be less than his English counterpart.
Number of double hundreds:
Cook scored five double centuries in his 161-Test career with two of them hit at home and remaining in Australia and UAE. Two of his three double tons came against Australia while one each against India, the West Indies and Pakistan. The highest is 294 scored against India in Birmingham and the lowest among his double hundreds is 235 not out against Australia in Brisbane.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, has scored six double centuries in his 200-Test career. He scored three of them at home while three abroad and of the three overseas scores, only one was hit out of the subcontinent. Six of his double hundreds came against Australia (twice), New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His highest score is 248 not out against Bangladesh in Dhaka while the lowest among his double tons is 201 not out against Zimbabwe in Nagpur.