All of England is hoping Alastair Cook can sign off from international cricket on Monday with a farewell century after he reached 46 at stumps on the third evening of the fifth Test against India.
If he gets there, Cook will become only the fifth player ever to score a hundred in both his first and last Tests – and will earn one final standing ovation during an emotional few days in south London.
And with his wife Alice due to give birth to their third child any moment, there may be even more cause for celebration in the Cook household in the coming days.
Alastair Cook (pictured) is aiming to mark his retirement with one final century on Monday
Cook is unbeaten on 46 heading into the fourth day of the fifth Test against India at the Oval
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace has praised Cook for his attitude this week
England closed on 114 for two in their second innings, an overall lead of 154, as they look to seal a 4-1 win over the Indians, with The Oval urging fans to take up an offer of £35 a ticket and just £1 for under-16s.
Assistant coach Paul Farbrace said: ‘It would be fantastic if he can score a hundred, wouldn’t it? I think he’s just enjoying milking all the applause.
‘I imagine that the reception he got tonight when he walked out really moved him, like everyone else in the dressing-room. He just seems to cope with everything that’s in front of him.
‘He’s shown everything that he’s about in this game, waiting for the right ball in the right place. He’s looked organised and got stuck in. It’s not easy out there. Come the tour of Sri Lanka, people will look around, realise he’s not there and remember the impact he’s had. We’re going to miss him hugely.’
Cook announced his retirement last Monday after a 12-year stint with England
Monday’s innings at the Oval will be Cook’s last in Test cricket following the announcement
But national selector Ed Smith is keen not to lose Cook’s expertise altogether, telling BBC radio that he hopes to involve him next year as an adviser to his former team-mates on the players he has come up against.
‘He’s been a captain, a player and is the leading run-scorer in history,’ said Smith. ‘He’s a calm, balanced and fair person, so I think we’ve got to try to tap into that knowledge and wisdom.’
In a separate interview, Smith also backed the retention of struggling opener Keaton Jennings for the tour of Sri Lanka, views that were echoed by Farbrace.
‘I would like to think he’s done enough in a difficult situation to be opening the batting come the first Test in Sri Lanka,’ said Farbrace. ‘Players are ultimately judged on the amount of runs they score, and he’ll be disappointed he has not gone on. But it’s been tough for both teams in these conditions.’
Farbrace also played down suggestions that England might rest either Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad from the tours to Sri Lanka and the West Indies, with one eye on keeping them fresh for next summer’s Ashes.
‘I’d be surprised if they’re both not on the tours,’ he said.
Farbrace also backed under fire opener Keaton Jennings (pictured) despite another failure