Alastair Cook’s record-breaking career was celebrated in style before he took to the crease to begin his final Test match for England.
The former captain was presented with a commemorative cap to mark his 161st appearance ahead of play in the fifth Test against India at The Oval.
Cook also received a series of video tributes from team-mates past and present, while India’s players and the umpires formed a guard of honour as he went out to bat. There was also a huge ovation from the sell-out crowd.
Cook, 33, is calling time on his 12-year international career after match. He will retire as England’s leading Test run-scorer.
He went into the game with 32 Test hundreds and 12,254 runs to his name at an average of 44.88, statistics his predecessor as captain and former opening partner Andrew Strauss believes make him the country’s greatest player.
Strauss, who is now England’s director of cricket and was involved in the cap presentation ceremony, told Sky Sports: “That average, that consistency, the number of times he’s passed fifty and obviously the hundreds and the match-winning hundreds he’s got all combine to make him England’s greatest player ever in my opinion.
“Greatness doesn’t come on the back of one innings or a good summer, it comes on the back of repeated performance over an extended period of time and he’s done it. He’s got the stats to back it up.
“He’s got the universal respect of everyone he’s played against around the world and he’s done it against every single team. Very players are able to do that.”
Cook was given an early opportunity to add to his statistics as current captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat.
India captain Virat Kohli also paid tribute to Cook’s achievements.
Speaking in his pre-match interview, Kohli said: “We have seen too much of him sometimes. He has been a great player for England. What he has done as an opener has been outstanding and he will go down as one of the greatest openers to have played the game.”