PRETORIA: Stephen Cook fared considerably better than his father Jimmy when he scored a debut century to help South Africa pile up 329 for five on the opening day of the fourth and final test against England on Friday.
It was a dream start for the 33-year-old and provided a stark contrast to his dad’s maiden test appearance in 1992 when he made a first-ball duck against India in Durban, at the age of 39.
Jimmy Cook was a prolific opening batsman for Somerset and Transvaal and played three tests at the end of his career, coinciding with South Africa’s test return following decades of apartheid-enforced isolation.
“Last night he gave me a call before I went to bed and he said, ‘My boy if you don’t go out to the first one, you are already better than me’,” Cook junior told reporters after becoming the 100th batsman to compile a debut test ton.
“I was really glad for that first one off the pads,” he added of a wayward opening delivery from James Anderson that Cook (115) dispatched to the boundary.
His father Jimmy quipped: “He got a lovely leg-side ball first off, why didn’t Kapil Dev give me one of those?
“He (Stephen) has had to work hard at his game, he’s never been one of those naturals. I was thinking probably it wouldn’t happen for him but he didn’t give up.
“I’m just chuffed he got his chance. He’s fit, he runs half-marathons in the winter and goes to the gym. He’s an old-fashioned opener who does his job,” added Cook senior.
Stephen, who shared a second-wicket stand of 202 with former captain Hashim Amla (109), said he never gave up on his dream of playing for South Africa.
“If I had given up hope I would probably have given up on the game. I always felt the day would come,” he added.
Stephen now has a chance to emulate recent late test bloomers like Australians Chris Rogers and Adam Voges.
“They were among those who kept my belief going,” he said. “But I’m very much a guy who looks after the moment and I have no intention of getting ahead of myself.”
South Africa are 2-0 down in the series.