'Relaxed' Cook silences his critics

2016-12-29 09:00
Stephen Cook (Getty)

Cape Town - Just a month ago, as Stephen Cook walked to the wicket in Adelaide in the third Test against Australia, his international future was not looking good.

He had failed in the first two Tests and with the return of AB de Villiers looming at that stage, Cook's place in the top order was most threatened. 

What followed was a back-to-the-wall century that may very well have been the catalyst for what is looking increasingly like an extended run at the top of the South African order. 

In Port Elizabeth, Cook continued his good form in the first innings with a knock of 59, but on Wednesday he silenced his critics completely with his third Test century as the Proteas took complete control of the first Test against Sri Lanka. 

There is nothing flashy about Cook and he is not always easy on the eye, but his grittiness and discipline combine in his favour. 

His Test average was moved from below 40 to the upper 40s at St George's Park, and he spoke a bit after the game about the last month of his career. 

"Australia was tough. I spoke about it a bit there ... the hardships I had gone through to get that 100 in Adelaide," said Cook.

"It's not that it's easier now ... but I was probably a bit more relaxed in this Test match. You're off a hundred and feeling better about the way things are going.

"Having those couple of weeks to make a few little adjustments to technique and get the confidence going ... sometimes in between Test matches you don't really have the time to bed down little changes you want to make."

Encouragingly, Cook and Dean Elgar have both scored runs in this Test match and that has not often been the case when the two have opened the innings together.

"It was very nice to bat with Dean for a period of time. I know in our previous outings we've dovetailed and one of us has scored runs and one hasn't," said Cook.

"It was nice to get a partnership going up front, which helps the team a lot. Opening the batting throughout my career has always been about partnerships and the only way you build partnerships is by spending some time out there."

The Proteas will start day four on 351/5 in their second innings - 432 runs ahead. 

Read more on:    proteas  |  stephen cook  |  port elizabeth  |  cricket

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