• England 4 min read

    Flintoff, Collingwood and Hoggard recall Alastair Cook's Test debut

    Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Paul Collingwood reflect on Alastair Cook's debut in Nagpur where he made an unbeaten 104

    When Alastair Cook receives his 150th Test cap before the third Ashes Test, he could be forgiven for taking a moment to reflect on his England journey.

    The former Three Lions captain will become the first England player ever to reach the milestone, almost 12 years on from receiving his first cap as a bright-eyed 21-year-old against India in Nagpur in March 2006.

    Cook started as he meant to go on with a century on his debut after answering an SOS call to join the squad from an England A tour in the West Indies to replace Marcus Trescothick.

    England, captained by Andrew Flintoff, also handed out first caps to Monty Panesar and Ian Blackwell - but it was Cook who stole the show.

    Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Paul Collingwood - who all played in that Test - recall their memories of Cook's stunning debut...


    The one thing I got right as England captain, the ONE thing I actually got right, was picking Alastair Cook to play.

    Hoggard (took 6-57 in the first innings and was man of the match):

    I didn’t have a clue who he was, I hadn’t played against him I don’t think.

    He walked through the door, what did I think? Far too polite, far too good looking, far too brown. All in all a really nice lad.

    Collingwood (scored 134 not out in the first innings):

    Cooky is a solid, stubborn, and a top bloke.


    He flew in from the West Indies and arrived just before the game. Duncan Fletcher wanted to pick Matthew Prior and I said, no Alastair Cook’s playing.

    I put my foot down for once. He asked why and I’d never seen him play!

    Cook made a confident start with 60 in his first Test innings, opening the batting with Andrew Strauss. ollingwood, now the England assistant coach top scored with 134 not out.


    It seemed he just came over from West Indies and said: “Lets go and get on with it”.


    I had a gut feel, as a lad at that age, at 21, he was so impressive and the type of lad I wanted in the side.

    He went out there, first innings got 60, second innings got a hundred, too easy!


    Fresh faced, straight into the side, he got a hundred in difficult conditions in India. He took to international cricket as if he’d been playing it for many a year.


    I don’t think I watched any of him actually batting! I didn’t watch the batters! It wasn’t 'wow, look at this kid, he’s got all the skill in the world and all the shots'. 

    But having arrived the day before, to have that mental toughness to go out there, to get the runs was fantastic. 


    Funnily enough I've been at the other end when he's scored a lot of his hundreds, and be able to give him a hug and allow him to celebrate.


    The amazing thing was he got on a plane from the West Indies, to London, then a plane from London to India, then he had to get to Nagpur then he played the next day!

    That takes it out of you, especially when you’re elevated up a team and up a level, and you have all of the anxieties and the doubts and everything else.


    Let’s be honest with a technique like that it’s incredible he’s got to ten Test matches!

    *Flintoff quotes courtesy of BBC Radio

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