Nick Cook
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Foxes Flashback - Nick Cook

Nick Cook (Born 17th June 1956)

Nick Cook’s second spell of bowling in Test cricket reduced New Zealand to 176 for 6 and put England well on the way to winning the Test. Few England bowlers have made such a spectacular start to their test careers taking 8 wickets in his first and 9 in his second test which gained him a ‘man of the match award’.

It’s fair to say that he only played in the match because incumbent left arm slow bowler, Phil Edmonds, ricked his back getting out of his car the day before the test. Nick was at the time playing for Leicestershire at Chelmsford and this ground’s proximity to Lord’s allowed him to make the short journey to make his test debut.

He held onto his place for the tour to New Zealand and Pakistan that winter, taking 11 for 83 in the first test against Pakistan only to be on the losing side. The West Indies were the visitors in 1984 and like the rest of the England bowlers he struggled to make an impression. He returned to tour Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand in the winter of 1987/88, and was one of no less than 29 first class-English cricketers who played in the Ashes series of 1989. In all he played 15 Test matches and took 52 wickets. No Leicestershire born Test Cricketer has taken more (in case you are wondering, Geary took 46 in 14 Tests and Stuart Broad was born in Nottingham).

Nick first played for Leicestershire Young Amateurs in 1972. Team manager John Steer wrote: ‘In his first season 16-year-old Nicholas Cook bowled beyond expectations to capture 18 wickets’. In 1974 he played against the West Indies Young cricketers, in a team captained by Nigel Briers and including Mike Gatting, Chris Cowdrey and Vic Marks. By now his club cricket had moved from Dunton Bassett to Leicester Nomads, by a distance the best club team in the county at the time. As a result, he was involved in county cup victories and the later stages of the National Club knock out.

Nick played for Leicestershire from 1978 to 1985 taking 395 wickets. His best was 7 for 81 v Sussex at Hove in 1982, which helped to secure a 13-run victory, and 12 for 130 v Essex at Colchester where Leicestershire won by 6 wickets. His tally  of  90 wickets in 1982 made this his best season.

His main frustration seemed to be that he was not often selected for Leicestershire’s one-day side, and this came to a head by not playing in the 1985 Benson and Hedges Final at Lord’s. The move to Northamptonshire followed at the end of the season. There he stayed until the end of his playing career in 1994 and then as coach to the 2nd team.

After several years of being on the reserve list, Nick was appointed to the full-time list of first-class umpires in 2009. He is now the senior in terms of age, and next year will see his retirement. My bet is that he will then spend more time following National Hunt racing, and maybe adding to the three horses he part owns and are trained by Kim Bailey in the Cotswolds.

And a personal thank you. More than 40 years ago we attended a coaching course together, ran by former county captain, Maurice Hallam. Just before the final practical exam, I found to my horror that the zip on my cricket trousers had bust. Nick, seeing my predicament, immediately retrieved from his cricket bag some safety pins. Problem and embarrassment solved!

Richard Holdridge - Club Historian