England can bank one last time on the reassurance that Alastair Cook will open the batting for them at The Oval.
The all-time national record runscorer announced his impending retirement on Monday lunchtime – cue for a universal chorus of approval for his lengthy endeavours in racking up more than 12,000 Test runs in a 12-year career.
Cook, whose name will be in the squad on Tuesday for his 161st and final Test this week, spoke of a “sad day” but international retirement with a “big smile on my face knowing I have given everything”.
He added: “I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined and feel very privileged to have played for such a long time alongside some of the greats of the English game.”
Others, prominent among them the 33-year-old’s near lifelong mentor and previous national record runscorer Graham Gooch, described a “great cricketer”, “great person” and a “hero”.
Soon enough, of course, England know they must move on from the man Gooch termed their “rock” – albeit one who has failed to live up to his own statistical standards of late in a conspicuously fallow summer.
But there are other issues to concern captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss, who admitted as much in the aftermath of Sunday’s series-sealing 60-run win over Test cricket’s number one team India in Southampton.
Bayliss did not know at that point whether Root will again choose to drop down from number three to his favoured number four position at The Oval.
Jonny Bairstow’s role as wicketkeeper is also in major doubt, after Jos Buttler replaced him because of the Yorkshireman’s broken finger at the Ageas Bowl.
The Bairstow question is potentially vexing, after he mustered just six runs – including a golden duck – as a specialist batsman.
“He is very keen to keep,” said Bayliss, who clarified even Bairstow realised his finger injury would not allow him to do so on the south coast.
“He tried it before the match started, but he admitted it was not right to keep.
“He is one of our better batters, so he was always going to play as a bat if he wasn’t keeping as well – but going forward he wants to keep.”
There were those who perceived an awkward reaction by Bairstow to losing the gloves – one which may yet be more of a worry if England make the arrangement permanent.
“How (he reacts) to that is for Jonny if it happens down the line,” added Bayliss.
“That is the challenge for us, and challenge for anyone who gets one of those strings taken away.”