Alastair Cook given guard of honour to mark final Test
Alastair Cook was given a guard of honour by the India team as he made his way to the crease in his final Test. Cook made 71 in what is likely to be his penultimate innings, and was seemingly on course for a crowd-pleasing hundred, before his dismissal during the evening session sparked an England collapse.
Walking out to bat in the morning, Cook, who has announced his decision to retire after a Test career that began in 2006, was given a sustained standing ovation from a full-house Oval crowd. Even the umpires joined in.
"I think because of the emotion, I didn't not want to get a score," Cook told Sky Sports at the close of play. "There's nothing worse than going out without a contribution, after all the fuss about the week. I'm pleased I got a bit of a score, disappointed it wasn't more. Win the toss, bat, get straight out there - nice to get off nought.
"It's such a nice gesture [the guard of honour] but you're focused on batting, doesn't matter if it's your first game or last. Nice of Virat, but I was just focusing on the first ball. It [the ovation] kind of went on a bit, which made me even more determined to get some runs."
Cook, who leaves the game as England's most-capped Test player as well as their highest run-scorer and most prolific catcher (excluding keepers), exchanged handshakes with India captain, Virat Kohli, who joked at the toss that it felt as if his side had seen rather too much of Cook's batting over the year.
Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, also presented Cook with a commemorative cap bearing the number 161 - the final tally of Cook's Test caps - in a squad huddle a few minutes before the toss.
There was no sign the emotion of the occasion had adversely affected Cook in the early minutes of the match. Having got under way with a well-timed push for three through the covers, he produced a vintage flick off the legs for four through midwicket to provide a reminder of his finest form. However, after recording his first fifty of the series, he played on against Jasprit Bumrah to depart to further applause.