Stephen Cook clipped his first ball from England's James Anderson for four and went on to make a polished 115 © Getty Images
Stephen Cook clipped his first ball from England’s James Anderson for four and went on to make a polished 115 © Getty Images

Centurion: South Africa opener Stephen Cook revealed he was inspired to a debut Test century on Friday by his father Jimmy who flopped to a first ball duck on his international bow over 20 years ago. Cook, 33, clipped his first ball from England’s James Anderson for four and went on to make a polished 115 to help South Africa reach 329 for five on the first day of the fourth and final Test at SuperSport Park on Friday. Cook and Hashim Amla (109) put on 202 for the second wicket before Amla’s dismissal sparked a collapse in which four wickets, including that of Cook, fell for 36 runs. SCORECARD: South Africa vs England 2015-16, 4th Test at Centurion, Day 1

Jimmy Cook had to wait until he was 39 to make his official Test debut against India in Durban in 1992/93 — and was out first ball. Stephen Cook also had a long wait to get a Test cap. At the age of 33 he is four months older than Amla, who is 91 matches his senior in Test experience. He was greeted with a hug by his father when he was finally dismissed. “It was the first time I have spoken to him today. He gave me a call last night and said, ‘my boy, if you just don’t get out to the first one you are already better than me?’. I was really glad for that first one off the pads,” said Stephen. South Africa finish on 329/5 against England at stumps on Day 1 of 4th Test at Centurion

Cook said he owed much to his father, who was a prolific scorer in 19 “rebel Tests” and who made a century on his unofficial debut against an English team in 1981/82. “He threw balls and fed me bowling machines for many years growing up. It’s one for him as well.” Cook, called up when the South African selectors finally opted for a specialist opening batsman to partner Dean Elgar, was calm and organised from the start of an innings during which he hit 14 boundaries.

“There was pressure throughout the day. I just tried to stay within myself. I’m generally not an over-emotional character. It was fantastic to have a guy like Hashim with me for most of my innings. He did a fantastic job in just keeping me within the moment and worrying about the next ball.” Cook was dropped on 47 by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off Stuart Broad and had nervous moments in the nineties when Amla was dismissed and captain AB de Villiers quickly followed for a second duck in three innings since being made captain.

“I spent a bit of time in the nineties when I was only getting ones. I did think to myself, I’ve waited so long, even if I spend another hour here it will be worth it,” said Cook. When he reached his century with two to midwicket off Ben Stokes his celebration was muted. “It’s obviously a lifelong dream come true but I’ve always thought to myself, even from a young age, it isn’t (just) about making your debut, it’s about performing and scoring hundreds.

“For so many guys it is a goal just to make a team whereas for me it was always greater, about contributing to Proteas’ victories with my personal performances.” Cook had hit 35 first-class centuries including a South African record score of 390 before making his Test debut.