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October 27, 2009
"When my brother and I used to play cricket in the garden, there was one score neither of us could ever go past and that was dads. Neither of us could ever score more than 313," said the Lions opening batsman Stephen Cook. Now Jimmy Cook's oldest son has surpassed his father's top score and broken the South African first-class record with his 390 against the Warriors in East London.
Cook was there when his father made his unbeaten triple century for Somerset against Glamorgan. He was also there when Darryl Cullinan set the previous South African first class record of 337 for Transvaal in the 1993-4 season. "My dad was also playing in that match, so I was sitting in the stands," he told Cricinfo.
Despite seeing both those records, Cook never thought he would be able to reach that mark himself. "I don't think you ever expect to break a record. I've been training really hard recently and have given myself the best chance to do well, but this was quite a surprise," he said.
As late as the fourth morning of the match, Cook, 26, had no inkling that a record was in sight. "I was on 202 and Makhaya Ntini and Lonwabo Tsotsobe were fresh from the night's rest and running in hard, but as the day wore on, they got more tired, which made batting a bit easier."
It was his 365-run sixth wicket partnership with Thami Tsolekile that propelled Cook to go all the way. "Whenever I started getting a bit loose he [Tsolekile] would come up to me and tell me to remember every time I got a bad decision or the pitch was too green and to take advantage of this opportunity." Cook soldiered on, and with not one run out opportunity or catches offered, he described his record-breaking knock as "almost perfect."
The one imperfection was that he didn't make it a quadruple century. "It was disappointing not to get to 400, but I'm a typical cricketer, in that I am never satisfied. When we get 30, we want 50, when we get 50 we want 100, so I wanted 400."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper