Ben Stokes wants England to get up towards South Africa’s 475 on day three of the fourth Test and bring back memories of the hosts’ second-innings collapse in Johannesburg.
Cook’s men are 337 runs away from parity at Centurion – and Stokes believes getting there would pile the pressure back on South Africa.
“It was a tricky situation for us,” the all-rounder told ecb.co.uk.
“Obviously we had a long time in the field and as cricket can go you can lose a few quick wickets with tired bodies and tired minds.
“I think we’ve done really well to come off 130 for two. Rooty and Cooky did a really good job for us. It’s something to build on tomorrow.
“If we can get up to somewhere near their total, we know the way we bowled at Joburg – bowling them out for 80-something – will probably be in the back of their minds.
“If we can get up to their total and maybe even try to get a lead, I still think we’ve got a shout.”
South Africa began day two well placed on 329 for five but Stuart Broad and James Anderson removed Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada in successive overs early on to give England hope of bowling the home side out for under 400.
But Quinton de Kock, ably supported by Kyle Abbott and Dane Piedt, took South Africa past that mark before bringing up his maiden Test century.
Stokes eventually wrapped up the innings by adding the scalps of Piedt and Morne Morkel to his first wicket of the day, that of Abbott.
“You could probably say I burgled a four-for by coming on to get the tail,” said Stokes, who finished with figures of 4-86.
“My bowling is coming on nicely. I’m putting a lot of work into it on this tour.
“I think I’ve sort of discovered what type of bowler I am for this team. We’ve got Jimmy and Broady and whichever third seamer we go for, and I’m the guy who tries to back that up and take some wickets. It’s nice to have that freedom to come on and be the wicket-taker.”
England lost Alex Hales early in their reply and then saw Nick Compton dismissed leg before wicket by a Rabada delivery which kept low.
“It wasn’t great to see but that’s the only one that’s misbehaved throughout the whole game,” Stokes added.
“That was a freak dismissal on this type of wicket. Let’s just hope they don’t land too many balls in that area again.”
Stokes will have a job to do with the bat on the third day – but first he hopes to see Cook get the 50 runs he needs to become the first Englishman to 10,000 in Test cricket.
“Ten thousand runs is a lot of runs and a lot more than I’ll ever get!” Stokes said.
“I don’t think Cooky well let that play on his mind; I don’t think accolades are a big thing to him.
“To be that close to 10,000 runs is an amazing achievement. Credit to his performances over his whole career so far.
“He just wants to win and lead by example – that’s a massive thing for him.”