Cook banks on Wanderers for WACA

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THEY both start with the letter W, they both have a reputation for producing hard, fast pitches, and they have both been the scene of great drama.

Opening batsman Stephen Cook is intimately acquainted with one of these famous places, and he hopes that will set him up for success at the other in the first test between Australia and SA in Perth on Thursday.

“The (WACA) wicket comes with a great reputation and we’ve spoken to guys like Hashim (Amla), who’ve played here before, and they’ve given they’re advice,” Cook said on Tuesday.

“What holds me in fairly good stead is that the Wanderers is my home ground, and that’s probably the one ground in the world that’s similar to Perth in terms of pace and bounce.

“I’ll try to take a few of the lessons I’ve learnt in my career and translate them into playing here.”

Cook has had 101 of his 329 innings in first-class cricket at the Wanderers, where he averages 39.72 and has scored seven centuries and 20 half-centuries.

His overall record in 329 trips to the first-class crease is 12 426 runs scored at 41.42 with 38 hundreds and 50 50s.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he is a better player when he isn’t at home.

Rather it could be indicative of how difficult the Wanderers is as a batting venue in the longer format.

So there is sense in what Cook said, although he will have to overcome an unhappy habit of nicking off in SA’s warm-up matches on tour which has limited his scores to five, 12 and nought.

But there was another reason for Cook to be cheerful about batting at the WACA.

SA have played only two tests there but they won both – to start their first successful series in Australia in 2008-09 and to clinch to the 2012-13 rubber.

“It’s really good to have reference points like that, when you arrive at a ground and a number of the guys have good, happy memories,” he said.

“They go to their familiar place in the changeroom and things feel a bit more comfortable.

“We’re aware of the challenges we’re going to be facing but it’s really good to have a few guys in the team with good memories.

“They’ve been very aware of passing on those tales and changeroom stories that to the guys who haven’t been here before.

“So the young guys have been a bit like a sponge, just taking in information and trying to absorb.”

Only six of the 16 players in SA’s squad have experience of test cricket in Australia, but none of that half-dozen have yet finished on the losing side in this country.

Cook will hope to add his name to that changeroom story of success after the first test.

Because, besides the Wanderers and the WACA, there’s another important word in cricket that starts with W: winner.


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