Arise Sir Alistair Cook
28 December 2018, 22:30
Mere months after walking away from the grind of international cricket, Alastair Cook's record-breaking efforts in an England shirt have been recognised with a knighthood.
Not the most stylish of batsmen but unquestionably among the most efficient, the left-handed opener's 12,472 runs in 161 Tests are both national records and benchmarks that will take some catching.
His sheer weight of runs in seminal series victories in Australia in 2010-11 and India in 2012 will live long in the memory, too.
Despite perennial questions over his captaincy, Cook admirably led England for a record 59 Tests, resigning after a four-and-a-half-year tenure in February 2017.
It was hoped relieving himself of the burden of skippering England would let Cook get back to what he does best, but the runs did not flow quite so freely and he announced the end of a distinguished international career in the summer.
Having declared there was "nothing left in the tank", Cook then contributed 147 for his 33rd Test ton in his final England innings to help Joe Root's men close out a 4-1 series victory over world number one side India.
It was a fairytale farewell as he ensured he book-ended his Test career with three-figure knocks, having started life with England as a fresh-faced 21-year-old in 2006 with a hundred against the same opponents in Nagpur.
There were plenty of peaks and troughs along the way but the rapturous reception he received for the final time as an England player at The Oval in September was a fitting tribute for all his graft.
Awarded an MBE in 2011 and a CBE five years later for services to the sport, he is now part of a very exclusive club of former England cricketers to receive a knighthood.
Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton and Colin Cowdrey are just some of the others in whose footsteps Cook follows.
Sir Ian Botham was the last of those to be honoured 11 years ago - although the great England all-rounder was bestowed the honour, not only for his impact in cricket but in recognition of his tireless charity work too.
Cook has also taken part in several charitable ventures and is a patron of the David Randall Foundation, named in honour of a childhood friend who died of cancer at the age of 27.
He may not cherish the fuss in the upcoming days; shy by nature, the former choirboy shuns the limelight in favour of a quieter life, spending his free time helping on the family farm near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.
Cook, who turned 34 on Christmas Day, will not completely disappear off the radar just yet, though, having signed a three-year deal to carry on playing for county side Essex.