Cook excited by West Indies challenge


It would be unfair to saddle every up-and-coming Essex seamer with the label of ‘the new David Masters’, but in the case of Sam Cook it was he who brought up the comparison.

The 19-year-old Cook is set to make his first-team debut today in the three-day game against the West Indian tourists at Chelmsford. When asked to elaborate on his bowling style, he said: “Quite a few people have said I’m like the old David Masters.

“I sort of nip it around like him, and pace-wise I’m probably similar to him. That is probably the strongest comparison.”

Depending on where you go for your background information, the right-arm seamer is variously described as fast or fast-medium. “I wouldn’t say I’m fast!” says Cook. “I’d say I’m fast-medium, medium-fast.

“Movement and swing is more my style. Line and length, trying to move it off the pitch rather than steaming in and trying to whang it down like some people do.” A fairly accurate description of the recently and dearly departed David Masters, in fact.

Cook adds: “I’ve watched Jimmy Anderson his whole career. He’s someone I look up to. The likes of him and Stuart Broad have been my two main influences growing up.

“But around the county scene, it’s been watching the likes of Napes and Masters here from a young age. That is why my career is starting to take off a little more because they are two people I’ve been fortunate enough to train and work with in recent years.”

Graham Napier spent time with the second team last week and Cook has trained alongside new-ball bowlers Jamie Porter and Mohammad Amir since he returned from his second-year studies in history at Loughborough University.

“We’ve got a really good attack here,” he says. “You’ve got to be a bit of a sponge and learn as much as you can from these guys who are doing it week-in and week-out at the top level, and aspire to be as good as them.”

Chelmsford-born and bred, Cook is not without pedigree. His Masters-like bowling has helped Loughborough to their fourth MCC Universities Championship in five years, as well as remaining unbeaten in first-class meetings against county opposition in his two years there.

“I’ve picked up a few wickets,” he says modestly, overlooking best figures of three for 64 against Kent at Canterbury last year, another three-wicket haul against Derbyshire this year and four top-order Leicestershire batsmen in a game not awarded first-class status.

“The MCCU games have been a really good opportunity to test your skills against people at the top level, and it’s given me a bit of, not confidence, but peace of mind knowing I can perform at that level. We’re really lucky at Loughborough with the facilities and the standard of the squad we have there.” Tours to Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Barbados have brought him up against the likes of Shannon Gabriel and Darren Sammy.

Twenty on Friday, Cook is too young to remember the West Indies in their pomp in the 1970s and 1980s, but like a good history student, he says: “I’ve seen a lot on Test Match Specials and videos and people talking about that West Indies team. They were a fantastic and really talented team.

“But I think people forget how well they have done in recent times. The shorter form of the game has been their preference and they’ve got some really explosive players. They’re an exciting team to watch, so full of flair.

“I’m massively excited, and if I do get the nod to play, it will be fantastic to make my debut in front of a home crowd, hopefully a full house, and against a really strong team.”