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Alastair Cook on his career, Ashes highs & lows, Kevin Pietersen & Graham Gooch

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Cricket has changed for the better - Cook
Alastair Cook will retire from international cricket following England's fifth and final Test against India at The Oval.The 33-year-old will end his career as England's most capped player, their leading runscorer, and with his nation's highest number of centuries and catches to his name.His 12-year Test career started with a hundred on debut in 2006 and has since taken in the highs of stellar performances in Australia and India, and the lows of being whitewashed down under and the Kevin Pietersen fall-out that followed.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, former captain Cook discussed his decision to retire, his regrets over sacking his mentor Graham Gooch as England batting coach and why he felt the door should not have been completely closed on Pietersen.You can hear the full interview on Test Match Special during the lunch interval on Friday, day one of the fifth Test between England and India.
On retiring: 'Even if I had scored runs, I'm not sure I'd have carried on'
[IMG]data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-src="https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/{width}{hidpi}/cpsprodpb/11861/production/_103277717_cook_record_graphic.png" data-sizes="auto" alt="Alastair Cook's Test batting stats">
Although still relatively young at the age of 33, Cook will leave international cricket with 161 Test caps - only six men have played more Tests in the history of the game.He bows out at the end of what has been the leanest year of his career - he averages just 18 with the bat in 2018 and has passed 50 only once since a double-century in the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne.I feel quite calm and as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's been nagging at me for the past six months or so and then there were a couple of moments where the decision made itself. Even if I had scored more runs in this series against India, I'm not sure I would have carried on playing.There's just something there that made retiring feel right. Like the captaincy, it is a big thing to give away. My heart is saying 'go on, play a bit longer', but my head is so clearly saying that I'm making the right decision.Things do accentuate when you don't score as many runs as you would like, but it just feels right at this moment in time.Naturally, I'm sad that it will be my last game, because it's been such an amazing journey over the past 12 years - not just for me, but for some of the people closest to me. My wife Alice's dad said he'd been on about 10 trips abroad to watch me play and my dad would never have gone to somewhere like India if it wasn't for me playing there. He went all around the country on the train. Stuff like that you really appreciate. It's not just me playing cricket, everyone that has been associated with me is the reason why I have been able to do it. Yes, I sacrificed a lot, but people sacrificed a lot to allow me to go and play.
The highs: 'It taught me to never give up'
An under-pressure Cook made a century in the third Test against Pakistan in 2010, an innings he acknowledges saved his place in the England side.In the winter that followed, Cook made 766 runs as England won an Ashes series in Australia for the first time in 24 years.Named captain in 2012, Cook's first tour as full-time skipper was to India. There, Cook piled on another 562 runs, leading to their first Test series win there in almost three decades.From a purely selfish, batting point of view, I couldn't bat any better than the 2010-11 Ashes and then in India in 2012. That was as good as I could play. To score a lot of runs and be man of the series in those two big away wins gives a real satisfaction. The pure emotion of winning the Ashes as captain in 2015, after what had happened before, was incredible.Having a beer in the dressing room in Sydney in 2011 is a treasured memory. I'd scored some runs and we had done what we had set out to achieve. We talked and everyone had their favourite moment. I said to everyone that if they want to take anything from it, it was to never give up. Six months beforehand I had been one innings from getting dropped and there I was after getting more than 700 runs in a series.The one thing I know I will miss is the dressing room experience. Experiencing so many things with a group of people has been absolutely amazing.
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