LONDON - Australia great Allan Border praised the "amazing" Alastair Cook as the England batsman equalled his record of 153 consecutive Tests by playing in the series opener against Pakistan at Lord's on Thursday.
This was the 154th Test of opener Cook's career -- with only illness after he made a century on debut against India at Nagpur in 2006 interrupting a sequence where he has never been dropped by the selectors. Border and Cook are both gritty left-handed batsmen, each having scored more than 11,000 Test runs and captained their respective countries to Ashes success.
They've also each won a County Championship title with Essex. But at 33, Cook is some five years younger than when Border played his 153rd Test, a reflection both of England's heavy programme and the increasingly congested nature of modern international cricket. "I didn't realise anyone was getting that close in terms of consecutive Test matches, but it is an amazing thing," Border told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.
"I've been a great fan of his from a distance over the years. I don't know him well, but we've got that Essex connection. "I spent two fantastic years playing there and so I've watched his progress as a former player from the club. "To have stayed fit and able to play that many consecutive games is remarkable," the 62-year-old added.
But despite his 244 not out against Australia in the fourth Test at Melbourne in December, Cook came into the two-match Pakistan series under greater pressure than usual. The past year has seen Cook score two double-centuries but only a further 216 Test runs at an average of 13.5 since last August.
Border, however, forecast Cook's Test career could run for a while yet. "There is no reason why he can't keep going for a few years yet. "The number he ends up with could be something quite extraordinary. "When I finished I was 38. Cook is only 33 so he will understand his game well enough to know where he is at when it comes to his performances. "The Ashes (a 2019 series in England) are only just over a year away, so he'll be 34 and could have a great series, and then he might even fancy coming back to Australia again. He's the only who will know."