Those in the know were saying that the tall, dark and handsome Alastair Cook was destined for great things very early on. A correct and stylish left-hander strong on the pull, Cook was thrown in at the deep end by Essex the year after he left Bedford School with a fistful of batting records, and has barely looked back since. His early England career was full of successes, although a barren spell in 2010 briefly threatened his place before a century against Pakistan at The Oval - a rather more frenetic affair than Cook's usual knocks - saved his skin for a while. He had looked increasingly vulnerable around off stump, with a tendency to play around the front pad proving costly. Cook had already lost his one-day place after a moderate run, not helped by his fielding sometimes being less than scintillating.