Book or by Cook‚ Stephen scored a century
Stephen Cook’s 104 in South Africa’s second innings in the third test against Australia in Adelaide was more than six hours of batting that was almost as difficult to watch as it must have been to play.
Cook trod the crease like a tortured soul‚ facing 240 balls and hitting just eight fours to score 29 more runs than he did in his other four innings in the series.
“He’s a fighter; I’m proud of the character he showed‚” South African captain Faf du Plessis said.
“It’s hardest when you’re under pressure to score a big innings like that.”
South Africa lost the third test by seven wickets on Sunday but they had already won the series with victories in Perth and Hobart.
Which made Sunday’s result bittersweet for Cook.
“I’ve had a tough time the last couple of weeks‚ that’s plain and obvious to say‚” he said.
“Before the series I knew things were going to be tough. I knew the Aussies had a good bowling line-up.
“And I got tested. By hook or by crook‚ I suppose — or by hook or by Cook‚ there’s a line for you — I managed to come through it.
“I knew Australia is a place you can be made or broken. I’m leaving with people perhaps being able to see that I can bat better than I have these last few weeks.”
For Cook‚ who played his 183rd first-class match in Adelaide‚ struggling for runs was nothing new.
“There have been a lot of times in my career where I’ve gone on streaks longer than this without scoring runs‚” he said. “I suppose you work out how you can get back. The nice thing is that I never felt like I was playing that badly.”
Not that he looked like he was playing well. But looks have never mattered much to Cook.
“It wasn’t a pretty show but I’ve never been a pretty cricketer‚” he said of his technique.
“I know it’s not classical. I know it’s a little bit ugly. I know I crab across the crease.
“I’ve heard many descriptions of it. Unfortunately it’s the one I’ve got and the one I’ve used for a long time.
“But it’s gotten me so far — yes‚ I’ll do little tweaks and try and make amendments — and by and large I stick with what I’ve got and try make it work for me.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to jump onto the front foot like Ricky Ponting or move in and behind the ball like some other players. For me it’s about getting my gameplan going and keeping my disciplines going.”
But there has been some prettiness in Cook’s life on tour in the presence of his wife and young daughter.
“It’s a massive help‚” he said of having his family around. “It’s amazing how your spirits lift when they arrive.
“That’s when I felt things turned around for me on this tour on a personal level.
“My family doesn’t care whether I’ve scored nought or a hundred. My little daughter looks at me the same way today as she looked at me three weeks ago.
“It shows you what’s really important. In the end it’s just a game of cricket.