A change of tactics ran Sri Lanka off their feet on day three and set up the Proteas total of 351-5, says Stephen Cook.
‘We had an urgency about us today, especially in the way we ran,’ Cook said. ‘In the first innings Sri Lanka employed that deep point, deep-square leg tactic quite a lot to cut off the boundaries. But we looked to exploit the singles and make sure they couldn’t settle on their lengths. We didn’t hit that many more boundaries today but we rotated the strike and ran a lot harder. That allowed us to stay ahead of the game.’
Cook, who ended with 117, shared century stands with Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla, but most importantly was the understanding of the two openers. They put on their second hundred-run opening partnership of the match, only the 10th time in Test history that the openers have posted century partnerships twice in a match. Before this Test, they had not even put on fifty together.
‘It was very nice to bat with Dean for a period of time,’ said Cook. ‘So far, we’ve dovetailed and one of us has scored runs and one hasn’t but opening the batting has always been about forging a partnership and the only way you get that partnership is by spending time out there.’
On his own performance, Cook said he is beginning to feel more comfortable in his role. He scored a century on the tour to Australia after battling in the first two Tests, and started this match with a fifty.
‘Australia was very tough,’ he said. ‘Not that it’s easier now, because Test cricket is Test cricket, but I was a bit more relaxed in this Test match. I was coming off a hundred and feeling a bit better about how things are going.’
He said that he had worked on a few changes, but ‘shutting out the noise is the challenge of a cricketer, whether it’s the noise on the field from the opposition or what’s being said off it,’ he said. ‘It takes a bit of a thick skin and I’ve developed that. I’ve been in a lot of different change-rooms and pretty hostile environments. I always say that if you make it out of your own dressing room, you can make it in the middle.’
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