Former Port Macquarie cricketer Jonathan Cook starred as Western Suburbs struggled against North Coast

JONATHAN Cook’s half-century rescued Western Suburbs from possible disaster in its pre-season trial in Port Macquarie on Saturday.

Cook hit a composed 53 as the Sydney first grade side managed a respectable 9-185 off its 45 overs against North Coast.

It could have been much worse as they struggled to 2-15 early and then 4-71 when Cook wandered out to the middle just before the 20th over.

“I hit them alright and just because it’s the start of the season just getting a start and batting a bit of time is always handy,” he said.

Fellow former Hastings cricketers Darren Bourke and Nick Cutler missed out with the bat.

“Nick just got back from overseas so he might be feeling a bit tired, but he’ll bounce back and Bourkey has been looking good, but he missed out today,” Cook said.

Cook moved away from Port Macquarie when he was 18 to attend university and said the pitch at Wayne Richards Park played well for so early in the season.

“It’s really good, I only played there once before when it opened a couple of years ago,” he said.

“With the lack of rain and they’ve been playing AFL there, it turned up okay and a huge thanks to Merv Bourke for that.”

I hit them alright and just because it’s the start of the season just getting a start and batting a bit of time is always handy. - Jonathan Cook

The Wests captain said he was impressed with Macleay legspinner Ben Taylor.

Taylor finished with 4/33 off nine overs.

“He’s got a really good action and is very accurate bowler; he’s hard to get away and a few of the boys misread how to play him,” Cook said.

“It’s a little bit difficult because we’ve been training on synthetic so it’s difficult to adapt to these conditions.”

Cook believed the future of cricket on the North Coast looked encouraging with the talent of the zone side who asked plenty of questions of the Wests batting order.

“Last year we played a North Coast team and there were a few of the same players that played again this year and (the ability) has changed immensely,” he said.

“Country cricket is in good hands with the guys they have on the North Coast and they look like they’re creating good cricketers here.”

Former Australian test cricket captain Michael Clarke did not make the trip to Port Macquarie due to other commitments.

But Cook said he had already learnt a lot from Clarke’s limited time with the Sydney club.

He’s got a really good action and is very accurate bowler; he’s hard to get away and a few of the boys misread how to play him. - Jonathan Cook

“Last season and the season before he played a few games and it’s been unreal to have him around the club and have that experience,” he said.

“To be exposed to him and what he says and what he says with the bat as well is unreal.

“More than anything it’s just his composure when he’s been batting or out on the field.

“It’s someone at another level which is a bit surreal at times, but he’s a really good guy and still actively involved in the cricket club.”

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