ESSEX batsman and former England captain Alastair Cook has become the first English cricketer in more than a decade to receive a knighthood.

The former Maldon Cricket Club player, who went on to become England's all-time leading Test run-scorer before retiring from international cricket in style at the Oval last summer, has been named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

It means Cook, who turned 34 on Christmas Day, has become the first England cricketer to be knighted since Sir Ian Botham back in 2007.

The Essex batsman is just the tenth player of the sport to receive the accolade.

Over the course of Cook’s Test career, he amassed a total of 12,472 Test runs in 161 England appearances, both national records and the latter including an unprecedented 159 matches in succession.

The only Test that Cook missed in the course of a 12-year England career was at Mumbai on England’s tour of India in March 2006.

It was the same trip on which he marked his debut with a century at Nagpur, at the age of 21, having flown halfway around the world from the Caribbean as a last-minute injury replacement.

Cook’s career included an impressive five-year tenure as England captain, from 2012 to 2017.

In that period, he led his country in a record 59 Tests, winning the Ashes twice on home soil, in 2013 and 2015, and leading from the front with three centuries in a famous 2-1 series win in India in 2012-13.

His most prolific series with the bat came on the Ashes tour of 2010-11 when he racked up 766 runs in five Tests, including a then-Test-best of 235 not out at Brisbane, to underpin England’s first series win in Australia since 1986-87.

Cook notched two more double-centuries against West Indies and Australia in the final 12 months of his career, before hitting an emotional century in his final Test match, which came against India at The Oval in September.

The opening batsman followed up a first innings 71 at The Oval with a commanding 147 in the second innings.

As a result, Cook chalked up a brace of scores which echoed his fifty/hundred achievement on debut 12 years earlier and culminated in an extended standing ovation as England pressed on to a 118-run win.

Although Cook has retired from England duty with 33 Test centuries to his name, he recently signed a new three-year deal with Essex.

As and when he takes the field in the 2019 season, Cook is set to become the first active professional cricketer with a knighthood since Sir Richard Hadlee bowed out on New Zealand’s Test tour of England in 1990.