England captain Alastair Cook may be on the verge of breaking Graham Gooch’s England Test runs record but he insisted on Thursday that his mentor was still in a class of his own.
Cook, following his majestic 162 in England’s 124-run win in the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s, now needs just 32 more runs in the second Test at Headingley, starting on Friday, to surpass Gooch’s mark of 8,900 Test runs.
If he does it in this match, it will mean Cook have got there in 114 Tests compared to Gooch’s 118, although Gooch arguably faced more genuinely all-time great bowlers throughout his career.
“I wouldn’t put myself anywhere near in his class but it would be a great moment,” Cook told reporters at Headingley on Thursday regarding the prospect of overtaking Gooch’s mark.
“I wouldn’t be here, or anywhere near here, without Goochie’s help, so it will be slightly strange if I do go past his record because without his hard work and dedication to me and my game, I wouldn’t have scored half the runs I would have done.
It fell to Cook to tell Gooch that he had been sacked as England batting coach in May last year.
But Cook himself said he had eventually gone back to his original mentor for advice.
“We worked together since I started on the Essex staff at 18 and then made that decision that I’ll work on different areas and work with different coaches over a period,” said the 30-year-old Cook, whose 27 Test hundreds are an England record.
“While it was really refreshing to work with different guys, I think its really important there’s one guy you go back to because he knows your game inside out,” added the left-handed Cook, like the right-handed Gooch an Essex and England opening batsman.
Since England’s victory at Lord’s, Australian Trevor Bayliss has been confirmed as their new permanent coach.
Bayliss will be in charge in time for the Ashes, starting in Cardiff in July, with Paul Farbrace — who worked under the Australian when they were with Sri Lanka — reverting to assistant coach.
“Trevor’s experience in all forms of the game, he’s a successful coach, everywhere he’s gone he’s been successful, his one-day record is very good as well so it will be interesting to hear his ideas on that side,” said Cook of the former Kolkata Knight Riders and New South Wales boss.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who played under Bayliss at KKR, added: “He’s obviously Australian, but I don’t think that matters in this day and age.
“You can coach different countries, it’s more about the skill-set you bring and the personality you bring rather than the nationality you bring.”