Durham - South
Africa opening batsman Stephen Cook is to play for Durham in the first
half of the 2017 English season, the northeast county announced Monday.
Cook, 34, who made a century on his Test debut against England at
Centurion last year, has since gone on to establish himself at the top
of the Proteas' order.
Now he will be available for the early rounds of Durham's campaign in
the second division of English cricket's first-class County
Championship following their controversial relegation last season.
Cook will also play in the domestic One-Day Cup ahead of what is
expected to be his call-up to the South Africa squad for the Test
section of their tour of England in July and August.
Durham were dramatically dumped into the second division as part of a
series of severe conditions imposed by officials following their £3.8
million bailout by the England and
Wales Cricket Board last year.
Now Durham will hope to field Cook alongside their South Africa-born
England batsman Keaton Jennings as they try to overcome a mammoth
48-point penalty deduction.
Cook, the son of former Somerset batsman Jimmy Cook - a heavy scorer
during his time in county cricket - said joining Durham was the
realisation of a dream.
"Ever since I was a young boy, watching my dad play for Somerset, I
always dreamed of one day playing county cricket," said Cook in a Durham
"Now in linking up with Durham CCC I am getting to live out that
dream. I am very excited to be joining up with the team and endeavour to
contribute to Durham victories," added Cook, who has a good average of
41 from his nine Tests and has a mark of 41.17 in a first-class career
that has so far yielded 40 centuries.
Durham coach Jon Lewis added: "We have been looking to add quality to
the squad but also the right character to fit into the dressing room,
and we have found someone who has both of those assets in Steve.
"Our conversations have been very promising, and he comes to us with a
fine reputation - built not only through his short international
career so far but throughout an excellent first-class record over many
years in South Africa - and we are looking forward to welcoming him
into the changing room."