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Cook: Only four batsmen came close to Brian Lara

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Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook claims only four batsmen came close to rivalling Brian Lara’s ability with a cricket bat.

CAPE TOWN – Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook has called West Indies great Brian Lara as the finest batsman he ever came up against.

Cook, who played 161 Tests for England – a record for his co-captained the side for four years between 2012 and 2016 and retired in 2018 as the fifth highest Test run scorer of all time.

According to Cook, only four players – Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara and Virat Kohli – came close to rivaling Lara’s ability with the willow.

“I was part of the MCC team that played West Indies at Arundel in the first match of their 2004 tour,” Cook said in an interview with the UK’s Sunday Times.

“We had a decent bowling attack – Simon Jones, Matthew Hoggard and Min Patel, all of whom were England players. Brian Lara scored a century between lunch and tea which made me realise I was witnessing another level of batsmanship altogether. It was a genius at work,” said Cook.

“The ones who came close to that when I was playing England were Ponting, Kallis and Sangakkara. Now you have to put Virat Kohli in that group, especially for his ability to score so freely in all three formats,” he said.

In terms of captaincy, Cook said Graeme Smith was the standout captain he came up against.

“Outside England, Graeme Smith was the standout skipper of his generation.

“He led from the front – literally so with his runs at the top of the order – and he gelled a series of different teams together successfully before South Africa reached the top of the Test rankings in 2012.

“He did it for 11 years and 109 Tests, which speaks volumes about his inner strength and adaptability,” added Cook.

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