The bright lights, the fireworks, the big hitting and the explosive bowling.
The playground for the sport’s athletic and aggressive youths.
So it’s not very often that an unknown 29-year-old leg-spinner makes an immediate impact upon making his debut.
But that’s what former Keira and Illawarra representative Jono Cook has done in the latest iteration of the Big Bash League.
Cook has six wickets and an economy rate of 6.69 runs an over in seven matches for the Sydney Thunder this season and has helped put his team in the hunt for a finals berth. The side can climb to second on the ladder with a victory over the Renegades on Tuesday night.
Even he admits the past month has been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, an incredible experience so far,” Cook said. “Even just having that exposure outside of actual games, it’s been incredible with training, with access to top players and coaches.
“I’m already seeing that improvement in my game.”
Those players Cook has had the opportunity to work with include a who’s who of international cricket. Shane Watson. Joe Root. Jos Buttler. Fawad Ahmed.
Cook has been full of praise for his teammates, who welcomed him into the squad just days before the start of the competition as a local replacement player.
“They’ve been incredibly helpful. We’ve got some serious experience in the squad, we had Joe Root and Jos Buttler, and local Australians Shane Watson, Callum Ferguson, Chris Green. They’re all guys who have been playing at a high level for so long and can give great feedback.”
Cook’s journey to the Big Bash is as winding as it could be for a 29-year-old debutante. Originally from Port Macquarie, he followed his sister to the University of Wollongong, where he became a mainstay of the Keira first grade side.
Throw in a stint in Ireland before an eventual move to Western Suburbs in Sydney and Cook arrived at Spotless Stadium with the life and cricketing experience that enabled him to perform from his first over in the BBL.
It’s a stop on his cricketing journey Cook never expected he’d arrive at.
“Only three years ago, I was still in Wollongong, enjoying my cricket and playing because I loved the game,” Cook said. “In all honesty, I didn’t think I had the ability to play at the high level.
“Moving to Sydney, things started to gather a bit more momentum and at 29, I was able to debut. I suppose if you keep at it and playing the game for the right reasons, good things do happen.”
Now that he’s made an impact in the Big Bash, future opportunities will no doubt beckon. But for Cook, his focus is purely on helping the Thunder take out the Big Bash title.
“My focus is purely on the Big Bash at the moment. Whatever happens after that, happens. I love this format, I think my game’s suited to the shorter form and would love to continue playing. I’m still just trying to take it all in for now.”