Dominic Cork: 10 interesting things to know about the English all-rounder

Dominic Cork, born August 7, 1971, is a former English all-rounder whose considerable skill was not entirely realised at the highest level. On his 44th birthday, Shiamak Unwalla takes a look at 10 interesting facts about the Englishman with best Test figures on debut.

1.  A debut to remember

Following a productive season for Derbyshire, Cork was handed his Test debut against the visiting West Indies in the second Test at Lord’s in 1995. Batting first, England were bowled out for 283, with Cork scoring a resolute 30 at No 7. West Indies responded with 324, Cork taking a pedestrian one for 72. Cork scored 23 in the second innings as England made 336. Set a target of 296, West Indies looked good at 99 for one before Brian Lara’s dismissal. That proved to be a huge moment in the game, as Cork then turned on the heat to take seven for 43 — the best figures by an Englishman on Test debut — as England pulled off a 72-run win.

2.  Hat-trick hero

That West Indies series was a memorable one for Cork, who ended the series with 26 wickets five games. In only his third Test, at Old Trafford, he once again entered the record books. West Indies were bowled out for 216 in the first innings with Cork taking four for 86. England responded with 437, and West Indies looked secure at 161 for three in the second innings. Cork then came on and once again proved to be West Indies’ bane. He got Richie Richardson bowled for 22. Junior Murray and Carl Hooper were both out LBW off the next two balls, as Cork ended up taking four for 111. England won by six wickets.

3.  All in the family

Cork’s father and elder brothers were all cricketers of some level. His father Gerald Cork, a financial consultant, used to play in the local league and also umpire in some children’s matches. Both of Dominic’s older brothers played cricket as well, and the young Dominic was “fiercely competitive” according to his father. “He was conscious that his two brothers were older than him and he competed with them instinctively. Sometimes it caused frustrations, but he always competed to win,” said Gerald in an interview with The Independent early in Dominic’s career.

The Cork family and cricket continued their association into the third generation as well, after Dominic’s son Greg Cork — a left-arm pacer — turned out for Derbyshire’s age-group teams. He has also played a few T20s and List A matches.

4.  Love of West Indies

As already seen above, playing against West Indies brought out the best in Cork. He played a total of nine Tests against them, scoring 287 runs at 26.09 — as opposed to his overall batting average of 18. But it was with the ball that he was truly unstoppable: 46 wickets at 19.69.

5.  County tourist

Cork started his career with Derbyshire in 1993 and played with them for a decade before switching to Lancashire in 2004. He made one final switch when he went to Hampshire in 2009. He had extremely productive stints with all three sides.

6.  Successful captain

Cork captained Derby from 1998-2003 with reasonable success initially. But by the end of his stint, Derby were at the bottom of Division Two, at which point Cork was to be sacked as captain. Instead, he chose to leave the County and switch over to Lancashire. After leaving Lancashire in 2009, he started playing for Hampshire. Dimitri Mascarenhas’ injury in 2010 forced Nic Pothas to take over as captain,  but his lack of form soon had him out of the side. Cork was the third-choice captain, but he proved to be an excellent leader, taking Hampshire to the final of that year’s T20 competition where they faced Somerset. The match was a tie, but Hampshire won on the basis of having lost fewer wickets. He was then made full-time captain in 2011. He led Hampshire to the semi-final of the T20 contest that year as well, where they again ran into Somerset. Cork bowled a superb final over in a rain-shortened game, conceding just three as Somerset tied the game. By now the Super=Over was in affect though, and Alfonso Thomas’ over won Somerset the game.

7.  Ever the showman

Cork was known for his exaggerated and often theatrical appealing, which sometimes got the ire of fellow cricketers and experts. Geoff Boycott once infamously called him, “a show pony with an attitude problem.” Cork entered real show business once he retired though; he took part in Season Six of Dancing on Ice with Finnish figure skater Alexandra Schauman, but they were eliminated after four weeks in the contest.

8.  Renowned commentator

Cork has since become a noted commentator with Sky Sports, and was a part of the commentary team in Pakistan when the Sri Lankan bus was attacked by terrorists in 2009. He has also worked as a presenter on the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show and Howzat! on Talk Sport Radio.

9.  Feud with Kevin Pietersen

One of the most vocal critics of Kevin Pietersen, Cork called him a “bad egg” and defended the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decision to axe him. Cork said, “I honestly believe that not everybody has to be the same; you can’t always get on in teams. But there’s a bad egg in the side; and let’s be blatantly honest, Kevin Pietersen is a bad egg. A great player, but a bad egg.”

Cork’s criticism received the ire of Pieresen’s wife Jessica Taylor, who also called him a “liar” on Twitter after Cork spoke of Pietersen’s physical confrontations in the dressing room. Pietersen’s friend and ally Piers Morgan also had an on-air argument with Cork after the incident.

10.  Cricketing honours

Cook was named Professional Cricketers’ Association Player of the Year in 1995, and was also honoured as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1996.

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)