The Oval Test against India will be the last time Alastair Cook takes to the field for the national side in the longest format of the game. The former captain, who came closest to breaking Sunil Gavaskar’s record of 33 Test centuries as an opening batsman called time on his illustrious innings on September 5. Cook has scored 30 tons at the top of the order.
The occasion is expected to be an emotional one in the capital city and England skipper Joe Root hopes his side can give Cook the send-off he deserves.
"It will be quite an emotional week for him and for a lot of the guys who have played a lot of cricket with him. He will be a massive loss to our dressing room. But I'm thrilled he's got an opportunity to enjoy this game.
The England captain who was aware of the decision in Southampton itself when they clinched the series against India, said Cook does not want too much fuss about his retirement day but if ever there was a time for it, "it's now".
"We have not got anything planned per se but I'm sure spontaneously we will do something. I'm sure the ground and the occasion and everyone involved will also help him do that fine. I don't think it will be a distraction but a motivation for the group. It means a lot to the whole dressing room and they will be desperate to do everything they can to give him a great send off.”
"It's been an outstanding career - 12 years at the top of the order - to have a record like that is some feat, especially in these conditions for the majority of it. There are not many openers around the world who can match that, never mind English players. So he's going to be very hard to replace."
When asked if he had tried changing Cook's mind, Root said, "I was a little bit surprised. But he was adamant in his decision. You could see in his face that was what he wanted and he'd obviously thought it through and was read for that. When you get that impression from someone there was no point in me trying to talk him round."
Talking about Cook's impact on him as well as English cricket, the skipper said, "I remember someone walking into the team and making it look so easy from the get go at the top of the order. Obviously a bit further down the line I was in Australia that summer/winter where he got 730-odd runs. I managed to get to a couple of the games where he smacked it everywhere. Just phenomenal really!
"He's been a huge influence on me. First he gave me the opportunity to play. As a role model, there aren't many people who go about things in a better way than he does. He's the most down to earth superstar you'll ever see. He's always got time for everyone. That's a great quality to have in any walk of life never mind a high-pressure environment like international cricket. I'll miss him being around. Not just for his runs and what he adds to the team but him as a person as well.
The stylish left hander is not only looked upto by teammates, but also opponents have held him in high regard. Cook, quite fittingly will be playing his final Test against India, a side he made his debut against in Nagpur in 2006.
Indian vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane paid rich tribute ahead of the final Test saying, "He made his debut against India in India. He has been fantastic for England cricket. As an opening batsman, he has averaged around 45, playing 160 Test matches in 12-13 years is great."
"Credit to him the way he has handled his batting, his technique and all the pressure from English media. Since Ashes till now, the media have put him under pressure. But he has been fantastic and I would like to wish him all the best for his post-cricketing career ahead."