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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
John Gilbert Cook
  • Born 16 May 1911 Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire
  • Died 10 September 1979 Overstrand, Norfolk
  • Educated Bedford School
  • Occupation Civil Servant becoming HM Treasury Valuer 1950 - 1969
  • Debut 19 August 1935 v MCC at Lord's
  • Cap Number 399
  • Style Right-hand bat, right-arm off spin
  • Teams Bedford, Bedfordshire, NICC

Gilbert Cook was a fine all round sportsman at Bedford School. A tall and commanding opening bat and useful off spinner, he was captain in 1929, when he headed both sets of averages and appeared for The Rest in the annual Public Schools Trial Match at Lord's He also played with success for the 1st XV. Master in charge of cricket at Bedford was future BBC Test Match Special commentator and former Cambridge Athletics Blue, Rex Alston. His influence must have been responsible for Cook gaining a place in the Bedfordshire XI, in the Minor Counties Championship, while still a schoolboy. In all Cook played 20 matches for the county, often with Alston and future Nottinghamshire Captain and High Court Judge WA Sime, another former Bedford schoolboy. Gilbert was not a great success at county level aggregating only 410 runs at 13.66 with a highest score of 59 v Hertfordshire at St Alban's in 1931.

In 1934, he took a post in the Northern Ireland Civil Service and was a regular member of NICC 1st XI for three years. He opened the batting, normally with double International Finlay Jackson, whose brother Harold, most elegant of left handers, followed at 3. His Ormeau performances gained Cook two Irish caps, the first against MCC in 1935 and the second against the Indian tourists the following year. On debut, he contributed to a then rare Irish win at Lord's, though a rather generous declaration also helped. In the first innings his 33 helped Eddie Ingram (78) add 69 for the third wicket. They were together again in the second knock with a match winning 120 partnership. Cook finished on 36*, losing Ingram (84), just before victory was achieved. In the first innings, he had been dismissed by the young Bill Edrich.

In the Indian match the following summer, he showed his penchant for falling to famous batsmen by becoming one of the 65 first class victims of the gentle medium pace of great Indian opening bat Vijay Merchant. India won by ten wickets, after trailing on the first innings when Cook took his only wicket for Ireland, that of Cambridge Blue Jahangir Khan, famous for killing a bird in flight with a straight drive at Lord's and for being the father of the great Pakistan batsman Majid Khan. Cook returned to the Treasury in late 1936 and was not seen again in Irish Cricket.

He gained a wider fame in his winter game. On leaving school he fitted well into the Bedford Club XV as a wing forward, flanker in modern parlance. He played two seasons for NIFC 1934 - 1936, helping to a Cup Final win over Queen's University in his first season, only to see the Cup yielded to the same opponents in a rematch the following season. Back in England, he captained Bedford for the three pre war seasons and won selection for the Barbarians. The pinnacle of his Rugby career came 10 March 1937, when he represented England against Scotland at Murrayfield. England, captained from full back by South African Test Cricketer HG "Tuppy" Owen- Smith, won 6-3, but Cook did not play again.

Away from Cricket and Rugby, his public life was distinguished. He finished his Civil Service career with a CBE (1963) and, on retirement, a CVO (1970.) He was 67 at the time of his unexpected death nine years later.

His obituary is in Wisden 1980.