The opener made the 32 runs needed in the first innings in the second Investec Test against New Zealand at Headingley to overtake Graham Gooch, and he did so just after lunch when he square-drove Tim Southee for four to reach 33 in his 203rd innings – and 8,902 in aggregate.
Gooch’s 8,900 had stood for 20 years as England’s historic benchmark and Cook was understandably thrilled to usurp his mentor.
“It is a very special day for me personally. I can’t really describe it, to be on top of the list. I don’t deserve to be there with the way I play,” he told Sky Sports.
“You don’t play for the records, but I know I needed 32 runs but to break the record, you want to do it with an innings (that matters). It was an amazing moment, very humbling.
“The last 18 months have been tough personally as a captain. A lot of stuff has gone on the last four or five months, but I have given time to my game and I feel like it is going well.”
It was a special day for Adam Lyth as he scored his first century in his second Test. Cook described it as a “great moment” and hailed the Yorkshireman saying he was “so impressed way he handled himself since coming into the squad”.
For Lyth, it was extra special to do it in front of his home fans.
“It was a fantastic moment for myself and my family. I was very pleased get three figures in front of home crowd,” he said.
“I was a bit nervous. They did bowl very well – I had to wait my time. It was a great moment and one that I will never forget.
“I was more nervous this game than making my debut – I don’t know why.
“Hopefully there are many more games to come.”
England finished the day on 253 for five after the visitors ended their first innings on 350 all out.
“It is pretty even – the last hour brought them back in the game,” Cook added. “They put the ball in right areas.”