I Never Gave Up – Cook

New Proteas batsman, Stephen Cook, says he never gave up on his dream of playing for South Africa after scoring a hundred on debut in the fourth Test match against England at SuperSport Park on Friday.  Cook kept his focus and sights on the baggy green despite the threat of age, and says he has taken a lot inspiration from other international cricketers like Chris Rogers and Adam Voges, who made late starts to their international careers:  ‘As time wore on I knew it was getting more difficult and less likely that I would make my debut, I never gave up, I always carried on.  If I had given up on that hope it would have been difficult to carry on, it would have meant retirement.  I never felt that, I always felt the day would come if I remained consistent and put in enough performances they would bare the fruit.  It’s obviously a life-long dream come true.  I had always thought that even from a young age that yes it’s about making your debut and playing for South Africa but it’s also about performing and scoring hundreds.  For so many guys it’s just a goal to make the team but for me it’s so much greater, I want to contribute to Proteas victories and Proteas successes with my individual performances.’

Cook gave credit to the calming influence Hashim Amla brought to the 202-run second wicket partnership, which interestingly is the first time since the age of 19 that the two have batted together.  He says:  ‘There was pressure throughout the day, so you are always aware of that.  I tried to stay within myself, I’m generally not an overly emotional character.  It was fantastic to have a guy like Hashim alongside me for most of my innings.  He did a good job at just keeping me in the moment, worrying about the next ball and not looking too far ahead.  I spent a bit of time in the nineties, I was only getting ones.  I did think to myself that I’ve waited so long so even if I spent another hour there it would all be worth it.’

The occasion was made even more special by the presence of his father and former Proteas player, Jimmy Cook, who cancelled an overseas trip to attend the match.  The 33-year-old says:  ‘Last night before I went to bed he gave me a call and he said, ‘my boy, if you just don’t get out to the first one you will have done better than me’.  I was glad for the first one of the pads, he came over and had a word with me, just said he was really proud.  I owe a lot to him.  He threw me balls and fed me bowling machines for many years growing up.  It’s probably one for him as well that he never got.’