Stephen Cook, after scoring an unbeaten fifty against an England XI for South Africa A, says earning a call-up to the Proteas remains in the back of his mind.
SA A were bowled out for 136 on the first day of the three-day game against an England XI containing almost all their first-choice players for the first Test against South Africa in Durban.
Cook, who features in the new issue of SA Cricket magazine out now, top scored with 53 not out, facing 170 balls as he showed some application and fight against an international bowling attack missing only James Anderson.
South Africa are still trying to settle on an opening partner for Dean Elgar, with Stiaan van Zyl set to continue in the role despite a difficult series against India. Temba Bavuma has also been tried in the role but will revert to the middle order for now with AB de Villiers taking the wicketkeeping gloves for the first two Tests.
The 33-year-old Cook has been the in-form opening batsman in the domestic season of the last year or two, but has been constantly overlooked for the national side, despite his vast experience and a first-class average of over 40.
‘I have always tried to graft hard, I’ve never been a flashy kind of batsman,’ Cook said about the number of deliveries he faced for this fifty.
‘I haven’t really played much T20 cricket in my career but it was a nice opportunity against a good attack to graft hard and test my skills. Obviously it’s always in the back of your mind, trying to get a call-up to the Proteas, but I’m just trying to do the best I can every time I bat and if that comes along then that’s fantastic. If not, it’s not meant to be.
‘It’s what I endeavour to do but it’s not the be all and end all, encapsulating my mind every minute of the day.’
Steven Finn took four wickets to steal the headlines after the first day and while giving him credit, Cook said the wicket didn’t justify SA A’s small total.
‘There was a little bit in the wicket but it’s not a bad wicket,’ he said. ‘A little two-paced and a little up and down, but certainly our 130 is not a reflection of the wicket. England were disciplined in their attack and bowled pretty well.
‘It was a tough graft, there weren’t too many freebies around. There were quite a few soft dismissals I think the guys will admit to. We had to dig in and work hard and not enough guys did that. We failed to put any sizeable partnerships together which is why we ended up with 130.’