England batsman Alastair Cook has revealed that he was very close to quitting England for good, after their comprehensive winter Ashes defeat in Australia.
After an impressive 243 against the West Indies last summer, Cook failed to pass 50 runs in ten consecutive Test innings, leading to a crisis of confidence and questions over his future in this England side.
At his lowest moments the pressure clearly affected Cook and made him question his own ability to retain his place in the side.
“You’re thinking, if I get another couple of low scores, things are really going to get tough for me,” he said, per the Daily Mail.
The turning point for Cook was a double century in the fourth Ashes test.
The series may have already been lost by that point, yet the confidence that a stellar performance brings was a tangible positive for Cook to take away from the experience.
“It showed I've still got it. There were some dark moments on that tour when I could have said 'I don't need this anymore' and just jacked it in. But to keep going and then deliver like that proved I've got something.
"You always doubt yourself. That's a natural thing. It doesn't get any easier the more you play. When a slightly older player isn't scoring many runs it's an easy story to write. Is he going to give up? Is he thinking about it?
"I questioned myself when it got tough. Am I still good enough to play at the real elite level? I knew the hunger hadn't gone but was it all worth it? Melbourne was as hard as it could be mentally because I was thinking 'if I get another couple of low scores things are really going to get hard for me.' So to bat the way I did.."
Reflecting on his poor form from last year, Cook has been philosophical on the ups and downs of his form. “To bat as badly as I did for two months, and then for 10 hours bat as well as I’ve ever done, is quite strange."
It was a difficult year for the England opener, as he handed over the captaincy to Joe Root, and suffered patchy form in a number of tests throughout the year.
He has certainly cemented his legacy, though, passing 12,000 runs during the ill-fated Ashes series. Only five other players in the history of the game have managed the feat.
He has been open that his age will attract regular questioning but with the first Test in New Zealand rapidly approaching Cook will hope he can continue to make significant contributions for his side in Auckland and Christchurch.
But England fans now know that should Cook go through a bad run of form again, the temptation to retire will get harder to resist.
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