THE roots of England Ashes hero Alastair Cook can be traced back to Cam and Dursley.

Batsman Cook returned to the country this week after starring for England in their 3-1 success in Australia, and the Gazette can reveal how it all began in Gloucestershire.

His father Graham and grandfather Clifford both played cricket for Cam, although the family moved away before the 26-year-old took his first steps on the way to stardom.

Clifford was the head of Maths at Dursley Grammar School - now Rednock School - and Graham played cricket for the school as a talented left-handed opening batsman.

Graham also played for Cam between 1968 and 1971 before going to university in London and moving away from the area.

However, it was during a visit to see his family in Cam at Christmas in 1984 when his wife Elizabeth gave birth to Alastair, two months earlier than expected at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester.

Clifford moved to Devon the following year and Alastair grew up in Essex, his county cricket club.

Speaking to the Gazette, Clifford said: “I’m very proud of him, it has been very exciting.

“He was always very good from the age of five.”

Cook was named player of the series and produced a match-winning innings of 189 in the final Test at Sydney last week as England wrapped up their first series win in Australia for 24 years.

He scored his first Test match double century (235 not out) in the draw at The Gabba in Brisbane at the start of the series, overtaking Don Bradman’s record score at the ground.

Cook, who has been tipped to be a future England captain, hit 148 in the win at Adelaide to match Bradman in scoring 15 centuries before his 26th birthday.

His 766 runs over the five games was the second highest of any English batsman in any series, with only Gloucestershire’s Wally Hammond having scored more, 80 years ago.

And Cook believes that his early arrival in Gloucestershire may actually have played a part in developing the batting style that crushed the Australian bowlers.

Speaking in his autobiography, Starting Out - My Story So Far, Cook said: “I seemed to be in a bit of a rush to get going when I made my first appearance, on Christmas Day 1984.

“Mum and Dad were planning to spend the festive period with both sets of parents, first in Gloucestershire and then in Glamorgan.

“However, I arrived two months early. So my status as a native of Gloucestershire was a bit of an accident.

“After that Christmas Day drama, I spent the first few weeks of my life in an incubator before I was strong enough to come home.

“Perhaps that was why I was small as a child, and it may even have played a part in my batting style because I did not have a great deal of upper body strength until I was pretty much grown up.”

Cam CC president Brian Tocknell opened the batting with Graham Cook, who played for the club as a teenager.

“Graham was a lovely young man,” recalled Tocknell.

“He was a good bat, but he moved on to university at 18 or 19 and got a job with British Telecom.”