Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
22 Mar 2017
1:46 pm

Stephen Cook’s form is testing the Proteas’ patience

Heinz Schenk

But the embattled opener certainly isn't the only culprit when it comes to the South African top-order's lack of runs against New Zealand.

Stephen Cook has looked all at sea in New Zealand. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP.

He’s scored a pitiful 17 runs in his four innings of the Test series against New Zealand  but it would seem the Proteas will keep Stephen Cook for the third Test starting in Hamilton on Saturday.

It’s pretty much accepted by most that the 34-year-old opener has a batting technique that probably isn’t suitable for the pinnacle format of the game.

As a result, Cook has learnt to cope and even thrive despite all the doubts.

But it is concerning that the Highveld Lions captain seems to go through so many of them.

Also read: Keshav Maharaj grows into a match-winner as Proteas race to win

Cook struggled earlier this season in Australia before he scored a hundred in Adelaide and is now in a similar rut.

How long can the Proteas afford an opener that only scores runs now and then?

“All batting units at international level will have one player struggling for form. That’s okay because you can’t just be relying on one player,” said Russell Domingo, the Proteas coach, on Wednesday.

“That’s why it’s a batting unit and that’s why it’s a team – the team has got to try and help that player get out of those slumps.”

South Africa don’t have to doubt Cook’s commitment though as he’s known for being a workaholic.

“Cooky hits more balls than anyone in the world‚” said Domingo.

“Even if no one’s allowed to be at the nets‚ he’ll still be there.”

Yet it’s hardly Cook who’s the only culprit when it comes to not scoring runs.

Hashim Amla and JP Duminy boast highest scores of 38 and 39 respectively in this series to date.

It places immense pressure on the middle-order though Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock have dealt with that well.

Domingo admitted that is becoming a problem.

“We’ve got maybe two or three players who are feeling pressure at the moment. That’s a little bit of a concern,” said Domingo.

“It’s always easier to just have one but when you’ve got two or three who are maybe searching for a bit of form, a bit of runs, it does become more challenging.”

And if Quinton de Kock, who went for a scan on a sore right finger, has to sit out, the pressure could become even more acute.

Heinrich Klaassen, the Titans gloveman, is the deputy wicketkeeper on tour.

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