Cook, who was selected in place of Stiaan van Zyl, got his career off to a perfect start when he thumped James Anderson for a boundary. He grew in confidence and along with Hashim Amla, who also scored a wonderful century, shared a 202-run stand which put South Africa in a good position after choosing to bat. He notched up his fifty off 97 balls by punching Stuart Broad through covers.
On 98, he survived a close shout referral and on the very next ball, he clipped Ben Stokes to become the 100th batsman to score a century on Test debut.
Cook also became the fourth-oldest batsman to score a Test century. Adam Voges is the oldest batsman to have scored a century at 35 years and 242 days against the West Indies in Rosseau in June 2015. Dave Houghton, at 35 years and 117 days, scored his debut ton against India in Harare in 1992 while England’s Stewart Griffith scored his debut ton at the age of 33 years and 240 days against the West Indies in Port-of-Spain in 1948.
He becomes only the sixth South African in Test history to score a century on debut. Andrew Hudson, Jacques Rudolph, Alviro Petersen, Faf du Plessis and Stiaan van Zyl are the other South African batsmen to achieve the feat. The highest score by a South African debutant is 222* by Rudolph against Bangladesh. Cook is the second South African batsman after van Zyl to score a century at home.
Creating Records for the Family
Stephen, who is the son of former South Africa opener Jimmy Cook, created a record which his father would be proud of. The senior Cook, who made his debut at the age of 40 against India in Durban, was out to Kapil Dev in the first ball of the match. Jimmy Cook’s cricketing career, which had coincided with the Apartheid years of South Africa, did not yield much success at the international stage.
Heading into the Test, Stephen had raked up scores of 53*, 168*, 118 and 76 in four First-Class matches for Lions. His good form has continued and South Africa will be hoping that this ‘late-blommer’ provides stability in a team that is under transition.