ESSEX and England cricketing legend Alastair Cook is set to become Sir Alastair after being awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year honours list.

The record-breaking batsman, who is England’s leading Test scorer with 12,254 runs, played for Maldon Cricket Club in his early years.

Although retired from international duty, Cook still plays county cricket for Essex.

He is also a patron of the David Randall Foundation, a charity named after a Maldon Cricket Club player who died in 2012 from bowel cancer.

The charity was set up to help people with terminal illnesses to enjoy life and honour and help those with special dedication to sports or music.

David’s father Mike said he still thinks of Alastair as a “young boy”, having seen him bat with his son from the age of eight.

He said: “I saw Alastair grow up, watching him and David play together for a long time.

“I still think of him as a bit of a boy, but of course he is now a huge part of cricket in this country.

“He is very important to our foundation, especially for the young children because when we host our summer event, Rock Up for Randall, he will present the children with their certificates.

“He is a big inspiration to them and still a very modest man.”

Before his hugely successful career internationally, Cook played for Maldon.

Club chairman Paul Bardo said he still makes time for the club he grew up at, and whenever he returns he is just “one of the guys”.

Mr Bardo said: “The club has always supported Alastair in everything he has done and he has always supported us – the award is well deserved.

“He comes back to the club generally once or twice a year and he has been back on other occasions for special events.

“When he comes back he is just one of the guys. He spends time with his friends and always makes time for the younger players.

“He never acts differently when he’s with us.

“When Alastair’s here we just spend time together, have drinks, sing songs and he is just another one of us.”

Cook becomes the first English cricketer to be bestowed the honour since 2007 when Sir Ian Botham was knighted, not only for his impact in cricket but in recognition of his charity work, too. In his early years Cook was a more gifted chorister than he was a cricketer as his family loved music more than they did sport.

He spent five years at St Paul’s Cathedral School, singing treble in the cathedral choir.

He was just 18 when he made his first-class debut for Essex and he made an unbeaten 69 in the second innings, batting in partnership with former England coach Andy Flower.