• Cook: I never stopped believing

    Stephen Cook says he never gave up hope of playing for South Africa and the first person he called with the news of his call-up was his dad, Jimmy.

    Cook (33) was yesterday included in the Test squad for the final showdown against England at Centurion, a move the selectors had been putting off for a while now because they wanted to give Stiaan van Zyl a fair chance at the top of the order.

    With the series already lost there is a greater willingness to try new things and so Cook will get his deserved chance. He has scored two hundreds and a fifty in his last three Sunfoil Series matches for the Lions and if he can translate that form against England South Africa might be able to save some face in the dead rubber.

    Cook’s father, Jimmy, played three Tests and four ODIs for South Africa between 1991 and 1993 and if Cook plays come Friday, which he almost certainly will, they will become the first father and son combination to represent South Africa since re-admission.

    Cook had just returned from the gym on Monday morning and was spending time with his one-year-old daughter when he got the call that realised a life long dream.

    ‘[Convener of selectors] Linda Zondi called me up and he said, “make sure you’ve got petrol in your tank because you’re going to travel to Centurion”,’ Cook told SACricketmag.com.

    ‘It hasn’t fully set in yet, but it’s a dream come true and a special moment for our family,’ who all gathered at the Cook household last night to celebrate the news.

    ‘It’s a testament to the hard work I’ve been putting in training,’ Cook said. ‘The first person I called with the news was my dad. I always believed there was a possibility, but I also knew it would get harder and less likely as I got older.’

    Cook is walking into a difficult situation where confidence levels are low and the team are searching for their first Test win in a year. Nevertheless, his task will be a simple one as the Proteas search for stability at the top of the order.

    ‘The only thing I can do is score as many runs as I can. Every hot streak has to start somewhere. I’ve really improved over the years in terms of understanding my own game better and trying to be as consistent as possible. You learn to deal with the ups and downs better as you get older.

    ‘I certainly don’t have any plans to retire soon and I think I can still play for a good few years.’