How retiring Cook earned his place in history the hard way
Alastair Cook has famously never sweated throughout his record-breaking 12-year Test career, but his all-time England highest runs haul was undoubtedly hard-earned throughout.
Even back in December 2010 after seven hours in the 40 degree Adelaide heat, the man who would become a four-time Ashes winner - twice as captain - claimed barely a bead of perspiration as he walked into a press conference to reflect on his second successive hundred of a memorably victorious tour.
It was a physical peculiarity which meant England threw the ball to no one else whenever they needed it dust dry in search of reverse-swing.
Curiously, though, it belied Cook's greatest assets of determination and ability to graft for sessions, sometimes days, on end without losing concentration.
Cook, who has announced his international retirement at the age of 33 after this week's Oval Test, will be treasured for generations for the unique stickability which eventually brought him 12,000-plus runs.
There is every prospect in fact, in the changing Test landscape he is about to leave behind, that the one-time St Paul's Cathedral School chorister and clarinetist's childhood change of direction has culminated in a body of work on the cricket pitch which will never be bettered by any English successor.
From the moment he first began to make a name for himself at the start of this millennium, the signposts to a potentially great career were evident.
Sometimes a mere scorecard, or circumstances surrounding a match or innings, can speak volumes about an individual performance.
Cook's statistics had already turned heads in his days as a schoolboy at Bedford and a club cricket prodigy for Maldon in Essex.
When he then hit back-to-back unbeaten centuries on consecutive days for England Under-19s in South Africa, it was indicative already of a special talent.
Two years later, within hours of receiving his Cricket Writers' Club Young Player of the Year award at a London hotel, Cook was back at Chelmsford the next morning taking guard for Essex and what would be an unbeaten double-hundred against Australia.
By the next winter, there was the first demonstration of his ability - and resourcefulness - on the international stage when he flew 6,000 miles from an 'A' tour in the Caribbean to make his Test debut in Nagpur, where he scored 60 at his first attempt and followed up with an unbeaten second-innings century.
These were feats beyond the ordinary, and a national-record 31 further Test hundreds later, Cook has continued to prove he simply does not observe traditional boundaries of what is achievable.
Yes, a couple of double-centuries apart, he began to find it all an extra struggle in the final year or so of his career - and remarked as he announced his retirement that there was "nothing left in the tank".
In fact, throughout, Cook never made his outstanding success look easy, nor was his career - 160 Tests to date, and a world-record 158 in succession - a seamless upward curve.
Far from it, in fact.
En route to that brilliant Ashes winter of 2010-11, for example, he booked one of the last seats on the plane only when he broke a run of miserable form by chiselling out a century against Pakistan in the nick of time at The Oval.
Further travails as captain, including the saga of Kevin Pietersen's Test exile and his own protracted century droughts, would surely have derailed a less resolute or driven character. But if Cook has a pre-eminent skill, it is not so much his reliable back-foot technique as that mental resilience which meant he simply would not yield in times of stress and would plough on in search of runs long past normal endurance levels.
His words, as he prepared for a successful Ashes summer in 2015, remain instructive too.
Almost a decade into his Test career then, there was still an enduring boyish optimism to what he had to say - perhaps with the encouragement of the England and Wales Cricket Board public relations team, but the hint of truth too as he spoke from the heart about his sport.
"Cricket is a great game," said Cook. "Cricket has been my life for years and years - I have been incredibly lucky to have experienced what cricket has given to me, from playing club cricket when I was 14 then getting picked for Essex, all those experiences.
"That's why I love the game."
That, in short, is why English cricket followers should love him back too.
Cook is living proof that even world-beaters have to dig in.
Yes, he is a remarkable high achiever - but only through sheer endeavour and tenacity did he harness the talent to far surpass his mentor Graham Gooch as the most successful batsman in English Test history.