John Cook, born in Retford on 5 June 1946, was a junior member of the Retford Club from his schooldays, a promising batsman and spin bowler. Leaving school he chose to join the Notts Police which restricted his opportunities for Retford but he became a valuable member of the Police side, formed when the County and City establishments merged in 1968. In 1970 he made his debut for Notts 2nd XI in the Second Eleven Championship. Between 1971 and 1974 he appeared in nine Second Eleven games, taking 28 wickets at just over 18 runs apiece – useful figures for a young spinner.
Cook made his First-Class debut for Notts v India at Trent Bridge in June 1974, when he bowled 35 overs and conceded 105 runs for one wicket. He impressed the Notts captain-manager, Jack Bond, and was picked for all Notts remaining One-Day matches – nine Sunday Leagues and one Gillette Cup. Against Surrey in his second match he returned notable figures of 7-1-19-4, but only took two wickets in the subsequent eight matches.
He was not picked for any One Dayers in 1975 but when Harry Latchman fractured his thumb, Cook was drafted into the Championship side v Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Despite the fact that Warwickshire scored over 600 runs in their two innings, Cook was not put on to bowl. He appeared in a few more Second XI games, his final match being in 1977.
In 1976 he captained the Notts Cricket Association side in its most successful inter-county season, when Notts CA reached the Final against Middlesex at Worcester. So far as club cricket was concerned, after the departure of the Notts Police side from the Notts Amateur Cricket League he joined Farnsfield, where he remained for the rest of his career.
In 1992-93 Cook was forced to retire from the Notts Police due to ill-health and he was destined to be dogged by health problems for the remainder of his life. He died on 20 December 2007 in a Notts hospital.
A reminder of his cheerful days with Retford is the story of a match in the 1960s, where he was scheduled to work a night shift with the Police and turned up for an evening fixture in his uniform. The game was developing into a tight finish with Retford needing runs to win. Cook and Derek Randall were seated in the pavilion. Randall was leaping up and down, getting more exciting. In the end Cook couldn’t stand Randall’s behaviour any longer, marched him to the toilets and handcuffed Randall to the water cistern. Randall was left there until the match concluded.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 470