Alastair Cook has left no room for any U-turn after insisting his Test retirement is final – come what may.
Cook, who announced on Monday that this week’s fifth Test will be the last of his record-breaking 161-match career, admits it is a tough call to say ‘never again’.
Nonetheless, pushed on the subject during his round of valedictory press interviews at The Oval, England’s all-time record runscorer spelled out that he will never play Test cricket again after bowing out against India.
Instead, he will play on for his lifelong club Essex – having signed a new three-year contract – an arrangement he believes may be a huge help when the inevitable “mourning” for his Test career kicks in.
At the suggestion he may be tempted, perhaps for example this time next year, to return on the back of a fruitful domestic season – especially if England happen to be struggling – the 33-year-old opener said: “That is a very tough question to answer, but no.
“I’m retiring, and that’s it. It is final.
“All those glorious things are just hypothetical. I have done my bit.”
Cook admits he was emotional when he broke it to his team-mates last weekend that he was about to retire.
He was less so in his Oval press conference, and does not expect to be afflicted either when he walks out to bat in his last match.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“You just don’t know do you what reaction you’ll get from the crowd, but I’ll just be focused on getting some runs.
“It’ll be slightly strange but I’ll just try to enjoy the week.
“We’ve still got a game to win for England – so I want to approach it the same way as other games, but obviously knowing it will be my last.”
There will be one other consideration on Cook’s mind this week too – because his wife Alice is due to give birth to their third child, a due date coinciding with the likely end of the match.
England have not chosen cover for Cook’s position in their 13-man squad, and he does not appear to have his mind set on a dash to the hospital at this stage.
“It’s very difficult to predict,” he said.
“She might have to do it by herself, I think.
“Ideally it will come after the match, or even better you get a hundred and then it comes when they’re about to bat, and you don’t have to field.
“That would be ideal, then come back and have another bat second innings, but I doubt that will happen.”
If there is a small amount of wishful thinking from Cook on that, his plan to play on for his county appears more grounded.
“Being able to play for Essex is an important thing,” he added.
“There is going to be a transition, there are going to be times when you get that mourning.
“I think having the opportunity to play for Essex over the next couple of years will help that a lot.”