James Anderson believes he could never have become England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker without Alastair Cook’s help.
Cook will retire from international duty after the fifth and final Test against India, that starts at The Oval on Friday.
And pace great Anderson, out on his own in England terms with 559 Test wickets and counting, hailed the former skipper’s impact on himself and those around him.
“He’s probably the most driven person I’ve ever met,” said Anderson, in his column for The Sun.
“His work ethic is phenomenal. He trains harder physically than anybody and works tirelessly in the nets.
“He is an incredible example to everyone and I include myself in that.
“I don’t think I’d have achieved what I have without Cooky, not just as a colleague and captain but as a friend and someone I look up to. I’ve always tried to follow his example.
“As a cricketer, he is the consummate professional. As a bloke, he is down to earth, loyal and caring.”
Cook has racked up an England record 12,254 runs in 160 Tests, with 32 centuries, and now has the chance to bow out on his own terms, aged 33.
Anderson admitted the England squad struggled to keep emotions in check when the Essex star explained his decision.
“It’s not often that you get a bunch of blokes moved by something,” said Anderson.
“But there were a few lumps in throats on Sunday evening because we’ve all been through so much together. Cooky had to keep his speech quite short because of the emotion.
“I was surprised and sad when he told me in Nottingham.
“But he says he knows the time is right and we all have to respect his decision.”
The England selectors will now tread a familiar path as they try to find a replacement for Cook, having spent years seeking a suitable partner for the record-breaking opener at the top of the order.
Surrey captain Rory Burns is widely regarded as the leading candidate, while Middlesex left-hander Nick Gubbins and 32-year-old Kent veteran Joe Denly have also been touted as possible contenders for the winter tour to Sri Lanka.
England coach Trevor Bayliss told BBC Radio 5 live: “All those three names have certainly been at the forefront of chats behind the scenes with series coming up.
“We’ll have to get together in the next day or so and come up with a team , not just for this Test coming forward (against India) but obviously we’ve got some important Test matches during the winter in Sri Lanka and the West Indies as well.”
Bayliss admits it will be no easy task to replace England’s most prolific runscorer, though.
He said: “Replacing greats of the game straight away is almost impossible.
“You hope that someone comes in and does themselves proud and goes some way to nearing Cookie’s record, and in years to come we might be speaking about whoever replaces him in the same breath.
“Not only is he one of England’s great players he’s one of the world game’s great players and his record is testament to that. “