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Former England captain Cook knighted

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Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook has been included in the New Years Honours List and will receive knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Cook — who has more Test centuries (33) and runs (12,472) than any other England player accrued during a record 161 Test matches — is the first cricketer to be knighted since legendary all-rounder Ian Botham in 2007.

The 34-year-old opening batsman finished his Test career in the best possible manner with a century against India at The Oval despite having declared there “was nothing left in the tank”.

“It’s a fitting tribute to a man who has led with distinction on and off the pitch every since he made his England debut,” England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Colin Graves said in a statement to Press Association Sport. “The statistics across that time tell the story of his special ability — as do the winners’ medals and Ashes trophies — but he is also someone who’s been a great role model for our sport. We’re very fortunate to have had Alastair in English cricket and we’re very grateful for his contributions to the game.”

Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive officer, said: “Since he was flown out to Nagpur as a last-minute replacement he’s poured every ounce of his commitment into English cricket. His final century was incredibly special and will live with everyone who witnessed it for a long time.”

Cook is now part of an elite club of former England cricketers to have received knighthood. He joins Sir Ian Botham — last one to be honoured 11 years ago — Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton and Colin Cowdrey on this elusive list of players.

The batsman, who retired from the international game this year, is England’s all-time leading run-scorer with 12,472 runs – and the fifth-highest run-scorer in the history of the men’s Test game. He scored the last of his 33 Test hundreds in his final Test innings at the Oval in the summer.

“I’m delighted that he has received this honour,” Graves said. “It’s a fitting tribute to a man who has led with distinction on and off the pitch ever since he made his England debut.”

Bill Beaumont, the former England rugby union captain, received a knighthood. The 66-year-old led England to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1980 and also captained the British and Irish Lions. He is a former Rugby Football Union chairman and was elected chairman of World Rugby in 2016.

“I have always viewed my work in the sport as an administrator as that of a guardian, driven by a passion to do the very best I can for rugby,” Beaumont said.

England’s football manager, Gareth Southgate, received an OBE after his team’s run to last summer’s World Cup semi-finals. Harry Kane, who won the tournament’s golden boot for top scorer, earned an MBE.

Geraint Thomas added another accolade to his glittering 2018 after receiving an OBE. The cyclist had already been named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year after winning the Tour de France in July. “This is an amazing honour,” the Welshman said.

Enid Bakewell, a legendary figure in women’s cricket, received an MBE. There was also a CBE for Geva Mentor, who helped England win netball gold at the Commonwealth Games on Queensland’s Gold Coast this year.

Paula Dunn, the Paralympic head coach, was made an MBE. Frances Houghton, the longest serving member of the GB rowing team, received an MBE, as did Helen Jenkins, the triathlete and 2008 and 2011 ITU world champion.

Joanna Bostock, the co-founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, received an MBE in recognition of her services to gender equality in sport.

(The story includes input from AFP and The Guardian)

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