TELFORD VICE, Perth
STEPHEN Cook isn’t concerned that his dearth of runs so far on SA’s tour of Australia will affect his performance in the first test at the WACA on Thursday.
Cook has recorded scores of five, 12 and nought in the two tour warm-up matches SA have played.
But he did not expect those performances to affect what happens when he opens the batting for SA.
“I haven’t scored that many runs since I’ve been here but I’m not too perturbed about that,” Cook said.
“Things were pretty good in a couple of domestic games back home and I’ve felt like I’ve been in decent touch.”
Cook made 56 in the first innings of his more recent test, against New Zealand at Centurion in August, and 97 not out for the Lions against the Cobras at the Wanderers last month in this season’s opening round of franchise first-class matches.
“We all hit the ground running when it gets to the real stuff,” Cook said. “Sometimes a lot gets read into practice games and situations like that.
“I’ve played this game for long enough to know that there’s no direct correlation between the two.”
In fact Cook has played the game long enough to accumulate 179 first-class caps. But in none of his three tests have SA’s opponents been Australia – their main rivals at a cultural as well as a cricket level.
“It’s a lifelong dream,” Cook said. “My first test (against England at Centurion in January, when he scored 115) was a dream, but as cricketers we’re never satisfied.
“You get a taste for something and you want more.
“This is an iconic series in which a lot of players’ and a lot of teams’ careers have been defined.
“Therein lies another wonderful opportunity for us as a team.
“It’s for me as an individual to make my stamp and put my mark on it.
“Ja, I’ve played for a long period of time but this is probably at the pinnacle of my career.
“If I can walk away with a series win here and hopefully some runs contributing to that I’ll definitely see that as a highlight in my career.”
To help Cook achieve that goal he has the help of Neil McKenzie, his longtime teammate at the Lions and now SA’s batting consultant.
“Neil and I go back a long way,” Cook said. “We played together for a large part of our careers together, without the title of batting coach or consultant or whatever you want to call it.
“He’s always played a large part in my career and since its become a more formal arrangement nothing has really changed – the way we’ve dealt with each other has been much the same.
“He’s always had an eye on my game and it’s always good to have someone who knows your game growing up, and its developed.
“It’s not just a piece of advice here or there – its well considered.”
And it would be well received if McKenzie can help Cook find the middle rather than the edge of his bat.