Former England Test skipper Alastair Cook has rated Australian seamer Stuart Clark and the Pakistan pace pair of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif as the toughest bowlers he faced in his international career.
Despite facing many of modern-day great bowlers including the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Mitchell Johnson, Dale Steyn and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, the 32-year-old insisted that he struggled the most against the said three pacers.
Cook's comments came on the eve of the first match without Test captaincy in five years as England prepare to face South Africa in the first Test against South Africa at Lord's.
While Cook and Clark have met each other in seven Tests in two Ashes series in 2006-07 and 2009, the England skipper struggled against Amir and Asif in the four-match Test series in England in 2010.
Clark had dismissed Cook five times in 14 innings, with the batsman crossing half-century only once in their seven meetings in December 2006.The Australian seamer had also caught Cook behind the wicket on four occasions.
As far as his meeting with red hot Pakistan duo Asif and Amir is concerned, Cook played seven innings against the pace pair of which he was dismissed on six occasions-- the dismissals were equally shared between the two quicks.
Cook had earlier this year stepped down as England's Test captain after a record 59 matches in charge. Following his tour to the subcontinent, which included a maiden Test defeat against Bangladesh and culminated with a 0-4 loss in the five-Test series against India, the left-handed had faced a lot of criticism.
And middle-order batsman Joe Root was then appointed as England's new Test captain, with Ben Stokes being named as his deputy.
Cook, who was appointed as the captain in August 2012, is England's most capped Test skipper so far, having led the side to Ashes victories at home in 2013 and 2015 as well as series wins in India and South Africa.
The opening batsman, who is just 118 runs away from going past Allan Border's mark of 11,174 run, also led the one-day side for 69 matches between 2010 and 2014, which is another England record.