- Born 11 July 1972 Londonderry
- Educated Faughan Valley High School
- Occupation Du Pont (Northern Ireland) mainly laboratory work
- Debut 25 June 1994 v MCC at Castle Avenue
- Cap Number 593
- Style Right hand batsman, right arm medium pace bowler, wicket keeper
- Teams Berryburn, Cumber Claudy, Eglinton, Ardmore, Limavady, Brigade, Coleraine
David Cooke, elder brother of Gordon, year in and year out, been one of the most consistent and reliable batsmen in North West cricket for over two decades. Right handed and at home anywhere in the upper order, he has twice passed 1000 runs in a season, with a further two "near misses" beyond the 900 mark. His talents have been seen beyond the fields of Beechgrove, Lodge Road and elsewhere in the North West, with impressive performances in the 1990s interprovincials as well as match winning innings in the Irish Senior Cup. In addition he can lay claim to being a real all-rounder, a handy medium pacer, who, particularly in his younger days could be surprisingly sharp, and a sound wicket keeper. Yet he has only one Irish cap to his name, having not been forgiven a double failure on his sole appearance.
He was a member of the Ireland U19 team which took part in the 1991 Youth International Tournament in Winnipeg, playing two useful innings, ironically in matches that Ireland lost. Against The Netherlands his undefeated 42 was second top score to Johnny Byrne's 43 as Ireland totalled 165-7 off their 50 overs. The Dutch won by 8 wickets. The Irish side included four future full internationals, none of whom was to quite establish him in the side in the years ahead. David failed against a strong England side which included Jeremy Snape, Glen Chapple, Mal Loye and future elite umpire Richard Kettleborough. However he (David) was back in the runs against Bermuda with 48, putting on 110 for the 4th wicket with Neil Carson (74*) as Ireland made a respectable 238-4, only to lose by 4 wickets. David did not get an innings in the convincing win over Canada.
His club career had, like Gordon's, begun with Berryburn Boys' XI then gravitated to their father's team Cumber Claudy, however it was not long before he was in the "big time" and proving his worth of which we may look at a few highlights here. He enjoyed success with Eglinton helping them to a Senior Cup win against Limavady making a crucial 43 in the second innings and, according to Billy Platt batting "with cool composure." He made the switch to the Bleachgreen to join Ardmore in 1992. Along with his brother Gordon who moved a year later, they both helped Ardmore to their only Senior Cup success in 1994, beating their former club Eglinton by 76 runs. It was with Ardmore that both brothers won their first caps.
His 931 runs in 2000 for Brigade included 137* against Sion Mills at the start of the season. "A fine innings," according to Billy Platt, it saw Brigade to 260-5 and an eventual 93 runs victory. In 2004, having relinquished the Brigade captaincy in favour of Gordon, he amassed 1034 runs at 51.70 with two centuries. These both came in the Irish Senior Cup in which he had a remarkable run. He began with an undefeated 106 against Cork County, having come in at 4 after two quick wickets had fallen. He set up a 96 runs win. Next up were Lisburn who were also defeated, David again topscoring with 65*. To Dublin, in the heart of Fingal, for the Quarter Final with The Hills. Here he was on his best form, playing a magnificent innings of 125* which set up a 103 runs victory. In the Semi against Limavady he topscored once more, makes 38 before being run out. On a wet day Brigade could only total 114, Limavady went on to win by 7 wickets chasing a revised target. However David's dismissal gave him a season's average for the ISC of 334, which has an appropriately Bradman sounding ring to it!
It is worth recording that in ISC matches for which full scores are available, these played since 2003, David had by the end of the 2012 season aggregated 838 runs at 52.37. He also passed 1000 runs for Limavady in 2010, having returned there after the 2006 season. He made 1017 runs at 39 with a highest score of 117 against Eglinton. Since his much discussed move to Coleraine in 2011 there has been little sign of his fluency deserting him with a further1381 runs added to his tally over the two seasons.
Among his best innings for North West in interprovincials, we may mention two on successive days in Dublin in 1994. At the Phoenix ground, North Leinster ran up an apparently safe total of 288-5 with Alf Masood in typical form hitting a superb, undefeated 125. However the visitors were not to be undone. It was a day for the sub-continent as Bobby Rao, opening with David, played as finely as Masood to make 104. David was not far behind him in stroke play contributing 76 to an opening stand of 208, which set up an unexpected - by some - 6 wickets victory. The following day at Kimmage against South Leinster, they were at it again, putting on 107 for the first wicket before Bobby was out for 51. David surpassed this by10 runs to topscore as NW closed on 258. However with Mark Nulty and Alan Lewis in form, the hosts had little trouble in drawing the match. He was again top scorer against Munster at Malahide in 1997, a match which the South Easterners sprang a surprise by winning. They had been restricted to 167-7 from 50 overs but most NW batsmen found the bowling of Keith Banks hard to counter. David with 60 and Junior McBrine with 46 were the exceptions. NW were all out for 160, Banks taking 5-33.
In 1992 David was a member of the Ireland U21 side which played the Universities in College Park and then took part in the tour of Scotland under Neil Doak's captaincy. A big win was recorded over the Universities, David, opening with Ted Williamson, contributing 21 and 25. Over the water, his best match was the two-dayer against Scotland U21. Ireland declared behind on the first innings, David with 42, having batted 133 minutes faced 104 balls, hitting 1 six and 4 fours. In the second innings, as Ireland chased 229, he upped his tempo with 38 from 39 balls in 45 minutes. This and others' efforts were ultimately in vain, the match finishing with the scores level and 3 wickets standing.
The story of his sole match for Ireland is, unfortunately, quickly told. Ireland were outclassed at Castle Avenue by a far from strong MCC side, though it did include "one cap wonder" Paul Parker, a top rank batsman who led the side. Facing an MCC score of 331-8 Ireland collapsed from 100-0 to 250 all out. David, at 6, was part of the debacle. Having made 4, he was caught at extra cover, driving at South African slow left armer Jacob Malao. He opened the batting in the second innings with Ireland facing a stiff target. He again reached 4 but was dismissed by the fast medium Gordon Harris, who had a brief first class career with Leicestershire and Middlesex. He had also caught David in the first innings.
David Rowland Cooke was surely worth another chance in an Irish shirt. His feats for Brigade, Limavady and others were not all - if any - achieved against weak opposition on flat wickets! To have such a consistent record for so long is indicative of the permanency of his class, even if he was temporarily deserted by form at Castle Avenue 19 long years ago. It is to be hoped that cricket watchers in the North West will still have several more seasons to watch this fine batsman in full flow.
Edward Liddle, February 2013