Sam Cook: The 2019 Campaign, England Lions and The Future


It’s been quite the year for Sam Cook. The 22-year-old recorded 38 wickets across all formats, his highest tally in a season, with Essex becoming the first side in history to win the T20 and County Championship double in the same season, and the Chelmsford-born bowler admits everything still sinking in.

“It’s still taking a bit of time to get my head around what we have achieved this season,” Cook said, “to back up the first title in 2017 with this one is an incredible effort from this group of players and I think it signifies that we are the top red-ball county in the game right now.

“To win the T20 is also a real bonus too. It’s something that you dream of growing up after watching in on television. It was an amazing day and one I will never forget.

“At the start of the season we set out to try and win all three trophies with a genuine belief we could. But still, you need a lot of things to go your way and a lot of big performances to achieve that.

“If someone had said to me three years ago you’d have won two County Championships and a T20 Blast, two being part of a double, I’d have laughed in their face. But saying that, at the start of this year I probably wouldn’t have been that surprised simply because of the faith I and the whole team have in our dressing room.”

The heroics at Edgbaston which saw the Eagles claim a maiden T20 title will live long in the memory, but Cook didn’t actually think he would be playing on the day.

He said: “Well where do I start about Finals Day? It was a completely crazy time to be honest. I hadn’t played in the semi-final but Harmy mentioned to me briefly after to be ready for the Final, but I didn’t really expect to be playing.

“It wasn’t until about a minute before we went out for the warmup that Mags grabbed me and said you’re in. I didn’t really have time to process it as we were straight out getting ready to the tune of Mr Motivator!”

It was a tense Final and there were wild celebrations as Simon Harmer scored the winning runs on the last ball, with Cook saying: “I think that the few minutes of footage and in the hours afterwards show just what this Club is all about. Not just celebrating as a team but the whole squad, support staff, families and all the fans that made the trip.

“This is a huge family Club and it’s a complete team effort, and by team, that’s not just the eleven on the pitch playing.”

The T20 side were led by Simon Harmer this year, and Cook was full of praise for his teammate, saying: “I think his stats speak for themselves, he really is a world-class performer and arguably the best off-spinner in the world right now.

“As a person, he’s equally great too and he always keeps the boys going both on and off the field.”

Harmer picked up several awards at the Club’s End of Season Gala Dinner in September, where Little Chef also claimed the First XI Young Player of the Year for the second successive year.

Cook was naturally pleased and said: “That was also a real highlight for me, to be recognised by the Club for your achievements on the field is always a great boost so I was really delighted.”

There we so many standout moments this season for the Club, and Cook found it impossible to pinpoint just one highpoint, saying: “There were obviously so many, but if I had to pick a few it would be the quarter-final win against Lancashire Lightning at Durham, obviously Finals Day, and then the bus journey back from Taunton…”

The 22-year-old modestly left out his performance against Kent at Canterbury, in which he took an outstanding 12 wickets for just 65 runs with Kent being bowled out for 40 in their second innings.

Cook’s performance helped Essex secure a vital victory towards the end of the season, and he said: “To pick up 5 wickets in the first innings was a massive relief for me after being out injured for a while before that.

“Come the second innings though, I knew with the state of the game we simply had to bowl them out for next to nothing, so it was a case of bowling some really attacking areas with aggressive field settings too.

“It all happened pretty quickly, but in the context of the season I think it was a key point in keeping up on Somerset’s heels.”

Following on from another successful campaign, there have been murmurings of an England Lions call-up for Cook, on which he commented: “I mean, that’s something you’re always striving for as a young player, so to receive a call-up would be nice.

“At the minute though I’m just concentrating on taking wickets for Essex and hopefully with that comes higher honours at some stage.”

The triumphs Essex achieved this year were unprecedented, and Cook is confident that the side can reclaim the trophies in 2020, commenting: “We want to defend our titles and continue with the mindset of trying to win all three.

“As a group, we have said that we really want to dominate the County Championship for the foreseeable future, and I think we’re moving on the right track. I think now we want to try and transfer that into our white-ball cricket and aim for a similar degree of consistency throughout those campaigns.”

On his own goals for next season, Cook keeps it nice and straightforward, saying: “I try to keep it really simple, and just set out to play as many games as I possibly can and in doing that, the wickets should be taking care of themselves.”

After coming through the Essex Academy himself, the seamer is tipping a few more homegrown players to have successful campaigns in 2020.
“We’ve got some really exciting young talent,” he said, “for the young lads coming through, I think Ben Allison has a big future ahead of him and I don’t think it’ll be too long until we see him in the First Team.

“I think Michael Pepper isn’t too far away either, he’s put in some outstanding performances in the Second XI and we’ve seen glimpses of that in the First Team. But on a whole, we’ve got a squad with youth and depth, so the future is certainly looking bright.”