Purely in terms of statistics, the highlight of Cooper's career came in 1988, when, for Nottinghamshire, he took 101 wickets. He was the first Notts born player to perform that feat for the county in over 40 years. It hardly needs adding that no Notts born bowler has reached that target since.
Cooper's forte was the simple dictum of line and length, not a new concept. William Clarke mentioned it back in the 1840s, but too many bowlers seem to rely on speed or spin. Cooper was one of the early fruits of Frank Woodhead's determination to unearth Notts-born players for the County team, when in the 1960s virtually every Notts player was an import.
Cooper made his debut for Notts in 1976 and almost immediately secured a place in the Notts side, taking 43 wickets @ 26.51 that summer. In the same season he just missed selection for the Young England squad destined for West Indies in the winter which followed. No less an authority than Gatting said that Cooper's omission was a grave mistake. Cooper's prospects, since he was only aged 20, looked fine, but ironically his immediate chances were delayed when Hadlee and Rice came together as Notts main strike bowlers. It seemed as if Cooper would be side-lined and have to act as a stand-by. Even so he toured Australia and New Zealand with D.H. Robins side in 1979-80. As the 1980s slipped away, Cooper's prospects appeared to gradually fade. That image dramatically changed when Hadlee and Rice retired in 1987. Stephenson was engaged as Notts overseas bowler in 1988 and the West Indian proved the perfect foil for Cooper. Whilst batsmen were baffled by Stephensons slower ball, they foolishly tried to score runs off Cooper at the other end line and length paid off!
A taste of Cooper's accuracy comes from One Day statistics. He conceded 2.66 runs per over his contemporaries in the Test squad had the following economic stats : Foster 2.95; John Lever 2.74 and Pringle 2.72. Cooper outshines the lot.
In 1991 Cooper had problems with his back; an operation was necessary. It wasn't a success and a second operation was carried out in 1992. Having played almost no cricket for two summers, Notts released Cooper. However he went on to prove there was life in the old dog.
Kevin Edwin Cooper was born in Kings Mill Hospital on 27 December 1957, but came from Hucknall, where he resided for most of his life. His initial cricket was for Hucknall Ramblers. After going through the Notts Youth sides, he joined the Trent Bridge staff in 1974. After being discarded by Notts he was signed by Gloucestershire in 1993 and took more than a hundred wickets for that county over four seasons. In 1997 he joined Herefordshire for whom he had tremendous success, materially assisting them to their first county honours. He is now coaching in New Zealand.
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