Alastair Cook has become England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, surpassing his own mentor Graham Gooch.
Cook set the new mark on the second afternoon of the second Investec Test against New Zealand at Headingley 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 insisted before the start of this match that – however many more he makes – he will never consider himself in the class of the man who has taught him much of what he knows, through their close working relationship and friendship since his school days.
Statistically, though, England’s record Test centurion – Cook has 27 – is now their top runscorer too.
He and Adam Lyth, replying to the Kiwis’ 350 all out, steered England to 54 without loss at lunch – each on 27 – and by the time Cook achieved his new national milestone, the hosts were still without loss on 78.
The captain celebrated his achievement with typical understatement, a wave of the bat in acknowledegment to each corner of the home crowd here to cheer him on and England to a possible 2-0 series success after their dramatic victory at Lord’s.
In 20 overs of batting on a sunny morning, Cook twice deflected Trent Boult to fine-leg for four, and drove Southee to the cover boundary.
But largely, as so often in his record-breaking career, he was patience personified.
His reward, at 2.15pm just a few minutes more than 24 hours after James Anderson became the first Englishman to reach 400 Test wickets, was a new claim to fame – one which will surely stay with him for many years.
Boult had two appeals against Cook on 13 in his sixth over, but missed the edge when he was hoping for caught-behind and then found it as he searched for lbw.
New Zealand had earlier continued the hectic pace of this match, and their general approach to Test cricket under Brendon McCullum, by smashing 53 more runs for their last two wickets in 7.1 overs.
Stuart Broad finished with five wickets, but at the cost of 109 in just 17.1 overs, as he and the Kiwi batsmen kept trading blows.
Matt Henry followed a ‘forehand smash’ over mid-wicket into the West Stand for six by immediately edging another short ball behind.
But then Mark Craig impressed in a last-wicket stand with Boult, especially when he drove Ben Stokes over long off into the Football Stand for another maximum.
Broad nonetheless completed his 13th five-wicket haul in Tests when Boult skied another attempted big hit which was safely held by Lyth at point, to close a manic innings.