It was 16 years ago, on September 3, 2005 to be precise, when a young batsman hit the national headlines in the sporting press.

It may have been the first time that his name was to become the topic of widespread discussion but it merely proved the forerunner of so many epic performances for a figure that was to become legendary in the annals of England and Essex cricket.

Alastair Cook, now a knight of the realm of course, had arrived.

And the occasion that launched his name into the public eye was the two-day fixture between Essex and Australia at Chelmsford.

The summer of 2005 saw one of the finest Ashes series of all time and the tourists from Down Under were about to witness first-hand the prowess of a batsman who would prove a thorn in their side for years to come.

East London Advertiser: Sir Alastair CookSir Alastair Cook (Image: June Christie)

The Baggy Green caps took the field at the County Ground for what they believed would be a useful workout ahead of the final warm-up match ahead of the fifth Test but left-hander Cook and another young batting gun, Ravi Bopara, both just 20 years old, upstaged them taking the opportunity to showcase their own individual qualities.

The pair left the tourists attack battered and bruised, underpinning an Essex score of 502 for the loss of four wickets by the end of the opening day.

Only Shane Warne was missing from the Aussies attack that had been on duty in the fourth Test the previous week but the Essex rising stars treated the tourists bowling armoury with disdain.

Cook and Bopara posted a magnificent second-wicket stand worth of 270 spanning 60 overs as they pitted their burgeoning talents against an Aussie attack including Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Shaun Tait, Stuart MacGill and Michael Kasprowicz to thrill the capacity and enthusiastic Chelmsford crowd.

Both batsmen delivered a glorious array of strokes that sent fielders on retrieving missions to all parts of the ground with Cook exhibiting a range of drives, pulls and cuts against spin and seam alike that were to become his trademark in the ensuing years.

Cook, who the previous day had been named as the Young Cricketer of the Year, needed only 107 balls to reach his century and it was shortly after tea, when he finally departed to the relief of the Aussie attack.

By then, he had scored 214 that included 33 boundaries and one six and arrived at his double hundred having faced 232 balls.

Not to be outdone, Bopara displayed a range of wristy strokes playing with an authority belying his tender years, interspersing cuts and delicate leg side strokes with powerful drives on both sides of the wicket.

His 135 was made from 220 balls and he twice launched the ball over the rope while also adding 17 other boundaries before he was dismissed.

The Aussie batsmen also enjoyed a run-fest posting 561 for six in the drawn affair but it was the precocious ability of Cook that was the topic of discussion.

Four months after this landmark game, Cook was making his Test debut although Bopara had to wait a little longer for his opportunity and Cook asserted that the double-century innings proved to be a significant moment in his career.

“It was certainly a great day in my career and the one thing that it definitely did was to put my name ahead of a few other contenders who were in the queue for a Test place,” he said.

“I was having a good year for Essex and I was going to the next level in terms of scoring runs consistently in the Championship so that innings put me on the road to recognition really.

“But it’s amazing how fate plays a part. Brett Lee had a good shout for lbw turned down in the first over but that got turned down and things just went from there.

"I'd scored almost 200 by tea and although it was a pretty flat wicket, it was the first time that I had faced a full international attack and they were bowling genuinely because the Test series was very much alive for them.

“So to score a double-hundred, my first ever in senior cricket, was and remains a special and fond memory.”

Cook would go on to make Test 161 appearances for England, 59 as captain, whilst also leading his country in 69 of his 92 ODIs.

The leading run scorer in Test cricket for England with 12,472 to his name, he finally announced his retirement from the international stage at the end of the 2018 campaign but he continues to play for his county to the delight of the loyal Essex followers who have witnessed a stellar career.