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by Saksham Mishra Friday 26 June 2020
Dominic Cork was born in a sporting family. His father Gerald Cork was a financial consultant by profession and played in a local league. He also umpired in some children's matches.
Dominic's brothers, who were four and six years elder to him, were into cricket as well. As a child, his objective was not only to compete but to beat his brothers, and this is where his cricketing journey began.
Cork played in a local club at Staffordshire before being selected by Derbyshire as part of the government's youth training scheme for a £28 scholarship per week. One thing led to another and he was picked by Derbyshire in 1990.
Just two years later, he made his ODI debut for England in 1994. He began to take a few wickets and showed some promise with the bat. This led to some premature and misplaced comparisons with Cork's childhood hero Ian Botham.
"In 1992, two years after my first game for Derbyshire, I made my one-day international debut for England and was compared to Ian Botham, which was incredible for me because he'd been my boyhood hero and I could remember watching him on television in 1981 and wishing that I could do what he did. Then I took seven for 43 on my Test debut against West Indies at Lord's in 1995 and it felt like I had reached the top of the world," Cork said after he retired.
Three years after his ODI debut, he was selected for the second Test against the visiting West Indies team at Lord's in 1995. The Test cap came on the back of a productive season for Derbyshire and Cork did not disappoint.
In fact, as had been the case throughout his cricketing career till that point, he rose to the occasion more often than not - the bigger the stage, the better he performed. That stands though only for his performances in England as he did not enjoy much success overseas.
Nevertheless, Cork made an important 30, batting at number 7, his first contribution in Test cricket, as England were bowled out for 283. His first outing with the ball didn't seem to be made of the stuff of dreams. Cork managed just one wicket in the first innings while giving away 72 runs.
Following another handy contribution of 23 in England's second innings, the bowler was about to unleash his best in the final innings of the Test. With West Indies needing 296 runs to win, the Staffordshire-born stepped up his game.
West Indies were looking quite comfortable at 124 for 2 when he struck for the first time in the second innings, dismissing Jimmy Adams. Wickets of Sir Richie Richardson, Keith Arthurton, Sherwin Campbell, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh followed. From what looked like a disappointing debut just a couple of days ago, Cork turned things around 180 degrees with figures of 19.3-5-43-7 in the second innings.
The performance not only brought Dominic Cork the Man of the Match in his debut Test but it also helped him achieve the feat of registering the best bowling figures by an Englishman on debut. England went on to win the Test by 72 runs.
Another high point of his international career came just two matches later when the bowler dismissed Richie Richardson, Junior Murray and Carl Hooper off consecutive deliveries to bag an international hat-trick. He picked up 4 wickets for 111 in the second innings and played a crucial role in taking England to a 6-wicket victory, at a time when a win was not the most common occurrence for an England side.
However, the dream did not last long for Dominic Cork and he seemed to have played his best cricket by 1997. Although bursts of success followed in 1998 and 2000, the bowler did not have a fulfilled career, finishing with 131 wickets from 37 Tests. Issues with his marriage and fitness saw Cork play his last international match in 2002.
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