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Knight watchman: Essex star Alastair Cook to get top honour

Cook leaves the field for the final time as an England batsman. Photo: PA

Essex cricketer Alastair Cook is to become a knight of the realm, according to reports.

The Times has reported that the former England captain who celebrates his 34th birthday on Christmas Day, is to be knighted for his services to the sport in the New Year's Honours list.

He'll be the first cricketer to receive a gong in over a decade, the last to get one was Sir Ian Botham back in 2007.

Cook celebrates his final century for England Credit: PA Images

The batsman hit a century in his final innings for England in the fifth Test against India at The Oval back in September before announcing his retirement from international cricket.

It was the 33rd time in his glittering international career he'd reached three figures.

The batsman is England's all time leading run scorer, hitting 12,472 in his Test career.

He's agreed to play for the next three years for Essex.