Cricket: England's tough Cookie, born to bat long

LEEDS, England (Reuters) - Alastair Cook was always destined to break batting records and it was no surprise that he became England's test run-scorer on Saturday, beating the record of his mentor and great friend Graham Gooch.

The tall left-handed opener with iron concentration made his first-class debut for Essex aged 18 in 2003 and three years later he scored 60 and 104 not out in his first test against India in Nagpur.

He formed a prolific opening partnership with Andrew Strauss and enjoyed his finest hour on the 2010-11 Ashes tour when he scored an astonishing 766 runs in seven innings as England won the famous urn in Australia for the first time in 24 years.

Cook's 23rd test hundred, against India in 2012, took him top of the list of England's leading century makers and he became the youngest player to pass 7,000 runs in five-day cricket.

When Strauss retired in 2012 Cook assumed the England captaincy, a responsibility that initially appeared to affect his ability to score runs and raised questions over his technique.

He went nearly two years without an international century from May 2013 and was axed as England's one-day captain shortly before this year's World Cup.

Typically, however, Cook refused to hide.

A battling century in the third test against West Indies this month ended the drought and he occupied the crease for nine hours in a gutsy 162 in the first test against New Zealand to lay the platform for a thrilling England win.

Needing 32 runs to beat Gooch's record of 8,900, Cook strode out to bat at Headingley on Saturday with Adam Lyth, his ninth England test opening partner, and simply did what he always does.

Defend resolutely, dispatch bad balls to the boundary with minimum fuss and concentrate fiercely.

Shortly after lunch he drove Tim Southee crisply to the cover boundary and raised his bat to the crowd who gave him a standing ovation.

A banner was unfurled by a supporter saying; "hashtag#headchef - well done, Cookie".

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